Bankruptcy in Australia – What To Understand about Debt Collection
A lot of people encounter financial challenges at some point in their lives, and most of these folks are quite likely to be familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is a person whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a company. A debt collector can either be an employee of a firm you owe money to, or they could be a 3rd party employed by a lender. As you can imagine, it’s not a straightforward task to squeeze money out of people who simply don’t have any. Most people in debt are already stressed about their financial issues, and people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of unfavourable connotations. There have been a lot of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s important that individuals who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and how to manage these kinds of communications.
Learn about Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is critical in being able to adequately manage any communications you may have with them. Under Australian Consumer Law, a debt collector must not:
Use any physical force or coercion (forcing you to do something).
Hassle or harass you to an unreasonable extent.
Mislead or deceive you (or attempting to do so).
Take advantage of people that are vulnerable, disabled, or have any other similar circumstances affecting them.
Not only do these laws concern a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but similarly your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else associated with you. If you end up in a position where a debt collecting is breaking these Laws, make a formal complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)1.
How And When Debt Collectors Can Contact You.
It’s also crucial to recognise how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, mail, emails, social networks or by visiting you personally. Each time you have communications with debt collectors, it’s pivotal that you keep a document of such interaction including the date and time of contact, the source of contact (person, email, phone), the debt collector’s name and business name, and what was said during the interaction. It’s also critical to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and supplying your financial information to another party without your consent is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also stipulates that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three phone calls or letters each week (or 10 each month).
Debt collectors can only phone you between 7:30 am and 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 9pm on weekends.
Debt collectors can only make face-to-face contact between 9am and 9pm on weekdays and weekends, once a month, and can only visit you if you haven’t responded to any of their former attempts at communication.
There is to be no contact from debt collectors on national public holidays.
Debt collectors must be reasonably sure that if they contact you electronically (social media or email), that your account is not shared with another person and their messages can not be seen by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector face to face, any threats of assault or violence should be reported to the police immediately1.
Know What Options You Have.
A debt collector’s job is not to be warm and give you a series of debt relief solutions. Their job is to persuade you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the best thing to do is to have an understanding of what your debt relief options are. You can perform some research on the net to uncover what options you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice in the beginning). Once you are aware of what options you have, you’ll be more comfortable in handling debt collector’s threats or demands, or any other collection tactics. If you don’t understand what your options are, it makes the job of the debt collector much simpler by having the chance to dictate the conversation and telling you of what options you have, whether they’re true or not.
It’s always a tricky situation when you come into contact with debt collectors. Their job is difficult, and they’ll use any way possible for you to repay your debt since the amount of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to deal with communications with debt collectors is to know your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, record all communications, and understanding what debt relief possibilities you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will dramatically improve your communications with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add extra stress to your current financial situation. If you need any advice about what debt relief choices you have, talk with the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Wollongong on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for additional information: http://www.bankruptcyexpertswollongong.com.au.