We all go through financial difficulties where it becomes difficult to pay off our debts, and we end up going delinquent on our loan repayments. And that is when we end up facing debt collection agencies.
If you are struggling to pay off your loans and are being troubled by debt collection agencies, then here are few things you need to know about your rights when dealing with them.
What is a Debt Collection Agency?
A debt collection agency is a company that recovers money from people who have gone delinquent on their debts.
If a debt collection agency calls you with regard to your debts, do cooperate with them. However, it is your right to be treated with courtesy and professionalism.
What are Your Legal Rights When Dealing with a Debt Collector?
Even if you are in debt, you still have legal rights. Thus, under the Australian Consumer Law, there are certain things a debt collector is not allowed to do:
- The debt collection agency cannot either physically force you or coerce to repay your debts.
- They cannot harass you or hassle you unreasonably.
- They cannot mislead or cheat you.
- They cannot take unfair advantage of any disability, circumstance or any other vulnerability that is currently affecting you. If an agency does something like this, it can qualify as unconscionable conduct.
These laws don’t apply just to you. Debt collectors cannot behave in this manner with anyone connected with you, including your partner, spouse, family or anyone else.
You have the right to file a formal complaint against a debt collection agency if it indulges in any of these behaviours. And if the agency has tried to threaten you with violence or has assaulted you, then you must call the police immediately.
When Can a Debt Collection Agency Contact You?
Australian law dictates that a debt collector can only contact you if their purpose is reasonable.
Here is a list of what counts as reasonable:
- Ask you to make a payment
- Wish to discuss repayment arrangements
- Ask you the reason why an agreed upon repayment plan is not being adhered to
- Wanting to review a payment plan after both parties have agreed to a set time
- Recovering or inspecting goods that have been mortgaged by you
Limits of Contacting You
If the collection agency has to contact you, then there are limits:
- They cannot call or write to more than 3 times a week, or 10 times a month.
- They can only call you over the phone from 7.30am to 9pm during weekdays, and from 9am to 9pm during weekends.
- They can only meet you face-to-face between 9am and 9pm.
- They cannot contact you on national public holidays.
- They should only visit your place of residence if there is no other way that they can contact you, or if you agree to or ask for them to visit your home.
If the debt collector is able to chalk out a debt repayment plan over the phone with you, then they should not try to arrange a face-to-face meeting at all.
Respecting Your Privacy
Even if you are in debt, the debt collection agency has to respect your privacy and protect all private information that if may have about you or other third parties. If your right to privacy has been violated, then you should file a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
Even if you are in debt, you still have legal rights, and the agency must follow this debt collection agency in Australia.