Bankruptcy in Australia – What To Know About Debt Collection
A lot of individuals deal with financial distress at some time in their lives, and the majority of these people are probably familiar with debt collectors. A debt collector is an individual whose job is to collect debts on behalf of a business. A debt collector can either be an employee of an organisation you owe money to, or they could be a third party employed by a lender. As you can envision, it’s not a straightforward job to squeeze money out of people who have none. It would be fair to say that many people in debt are already stressed about their financial problems, and other people contacting them to remind them of this doesn’t always end smoothly. As a result, debt collectors have a lot of negative connotations. There have been lots of cases of people being harassed by debt collectors so it’s essential that people who are being contacted by debt collectors understand their rights and how to manage these sorts of communications.
Be aware of Your Legal Rights.
Understanding what debt collectors can and can’t do is crucial in having the ability to suitably manage any correspondences 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 involve a debt collector’s behaviour towards you, but also your partner or spouse, family members, or anyone else associated with you. If you end up in a situation 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 equally valuable to understand how and when debt collectors can contact you. They can do this by phone, letters, emails, social networking sites or by visiting you face to face. Any time you have interactions with debt collectors, it’s critical that you maintain a document of such interaction including the time and date of contact, the source of contact (letter, phone, person), the debt collector’s name and company name, and what was said during the correspondence. It’s also valuable to note that debt collectors must respect your right to privacy and providing your financial details to another party without your permission is breaking the Law.
The Australian Consumer Law also states that:
Debt collectors can only make up to three phone calls or letters per week (or 10 monthly).
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 answered any of their prior 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 correspondence can not be viewed by anyone but you.
If you do agree to meet a debt collector in person, 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 courteous and give you a series of debt relief options. Their task is to coax you to repay as much of your debt as possible, as fast 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 web to find what alternatives you have or you could seek professional debt management advice (most companies will offer free advice at the beginning). Once you understand what alternatives you have, you’ll be more comfortable in addressing 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 easier by having the opportunity to control the discussion 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 very difficult, and they’ll use any way possible for you to repay your debt since the quantity of debt you repay and how fast you repay it determines the commissions that debt collectors receive from creditors. The best way to manage interactions with debt collectors is to realise your legal rights, when and how they can contact you, document all interactions, and knowing what debt relief alternatives you have. If you’re aware of these points, then it will certainly improve your interactions with debt collectors and hopefully won’t add additional stress to your current financial predicament. If you need any advice about what debt relief options you have, speak to the professionals at Bankruptcy Experts Canberra on 1300 795 575 or visit their website for more details: http://www.bankruptcyexpertscanberra.com.au.