You’re not alone if you’ve fallen from financial security and landed in a difficult situation with debt. With that being said, just because you are in debt doesn’t mean you don’t have any consumer rights when it comes to how collectors treat you. Debt collectors have a job to do but there are certain things that debt collectors are not allowed to do.
Unfortunately, debt collector harassment is something that many people face when trying to overcome the debts they owe. It’s never right and you shouldn’t ever be intimidated by unscrupulous debt collectors. While some bad practices may be harder to prove, report any violent or threatening behaviour to the police immediately or lodge a complaint by contacting the ACCC.
If you’re wondering what debt collectors are not allowed to do, we’re here to help. Take a look at our list to see if the debt collectors approaching you are violating your rights or not. Or, if you need expert assistance to renegotiate your debt, please visit our debt solutions page for further information on how Debt Busters can help you.
Make repeated phone calls
Debt collectors are not allowed to call your home or mobile phone repeatedly in order to get you to answer. In Australia, you can receive three phone calls or letters a week with a maximum of ten per month. Any more than this is classed as debt collector harassment and if you’re a victim to this bad practice you can make a consumer complaint.
Call outside of Australian regulated hours
Like anyone, you’re still entitled to privacy outside of working hours despite having debts. Don’t put up with cold calls from debt collectors outside of the regulated time slots – 7:30 am–9:00 pm on weekdays and 9:00 am–9:00 pm on weekends.
In addition to phone calls, debt collectors can only visit your home to speak to face to face between 9:00 am–9:00 pm on weekdays and weekends. Lastly, contact is totally prohibited on any national or public holiday in Australia.
Take advantage of a personal vulnerability
If you’re disabled or in any way vulnerable, debt collectors are not allowed to exploit you for their own means. This is considered extremely serious and is classified as unconscionable conduct under Australian Consumer Law. If you feel that a debt collector is exploiting your vulnerability, speak to a friend or family member to let them know your situation before contacting the ACCC.
Make threats or use abusive language
While making a demand for repayment isn’t considered debt collector harassment, threatening behaviour is. If you’ve been physically threatened or forcefully coerced, then your rights have been violated. It’s also vital to remember that the consumer rights you have also extend to your spouse, partner and family members. Depending on the severity of the threats, you may wish to contact the police or opt to make a complaint instead.
Talk about your debt openly
Your debts are something that debt collectors can speak about with your lawyer or spouse, but never with anyone else. However, collectors may try to be sneaky when calling your employer to verify you’re in employment and that your contact information is correct. If they reveal anything about your debt then they’ve breached your consumer rights.
Publicly share your private debt information
While this is highly unlikely to occur, it’s possible that an unscrupulous collector may try to get your attention by publicly airing your debts. Any form of exposure that shows your private debt information is a breach of your rights. So, sending you a postcard or taking out an advertisement in newspapers, magazines and other media platforms is prohibited.
Tell lies about who they are or what they want
Debt collector harassment can take many forms and one of the scariest is through deception. Collectors may tell you that they are in fact police officers or members of the court in order to coerce you into paying off more debt than you can currently afford. If anyone visits your property or contacts you claiming to be a person of authority you should take their name and relevant contact details before calling your creditor or the police.
Misinform you about the situation of your debt
If your debt has been taken on by a particular agency to collect, then they may have the right to pass this on to someone else. However, you can’t be misled with false information about the current or future collection agency handling your debt. If you sense that you are being misled about your debt information, contact the ACCC to make a complaint.
When do debt collectors give up?
Debt collectors can start calling you for simple contract debts such as unsecured personal loans and credit cards when a payment is overdue or in default. In most situations, debt collection agencies can contact you for up to 6 years since your last payment date, or when you admitted in writing that you owed the debt. This also means that the usual 6 year period is restarted every time you make a payment. If there is a court judgement, they are allowed to collect from you for up to 12 years and even 15 years in some states.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what are debt collectors not allowed to do. If you’d like friendly and professional advice on how you can start to overcome your debt and regain your financial freedom, the Debt Busters team are here to help! Contact our experienced team now on 1300 368 322 to learn more about our effective debt solutions.