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.