If you owe money on a credit card, a personal loan, a mortgage, or you have the electricity connected, a telephone connected or an unpaid traffic fine, you are debtor.
Chances are that if you are behind with payments on any of these you may be contacted by an employee of a debt collection agency (a debt collector).
Should you be contacted by a debt collector, you are entitled to be treated fairly and must not be subjected to unfair methods of debt collection. There are a number of laws and guidelines that collectors must follow in all their contact with debtors.
Commonly asked questions
What is a debt collector or collection agency?
A debt collector is any person (or agency) other than a person directly employed by the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others.
How may a debt collector contact you?
A collector may contact you by mail, telephone or personal visit, provided that this is not done at an unreasonable time or place. Generally, personal or telephone contact is regarded as unreasonable if you are contacted before 7.30am or after 9.00pm, unless you agree to be contacted outside of these hours. A collector may not contact you at work if he/she knows that your employer disapproves.
Can a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt?
A collector may contact your solicitor, financial counsellor or other person nominated by you to discuss your account. A collector may not tell or indicate to anyone other than you or your solicitor, financial counsellor or nominated person that you owe money. A collector may contact a person other than those nominated, but only to find out where you live or work.
What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?
Debt collectors may not:
- Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property or reputation
- Use obscene or profane language
- Make repeated telephone calls to annoy anyone
- Telephone a debtor without identifying themselves at the start of the conversation
- Pretend to be a solicitor, or government employee
- Falsely imply that documents sent to you are legal documents
- Falsely imply that you can be arrested if you do not pay
- Falsely imply that you can be deported if you do not pay
- Threaten legal or other action against you which may not legally be taken, or, which they have no intention of taking
- Send you any document that looks like an official court document if it is not
- Discuss your debt with your employer unless it is for the purpose of arranging a wages garnishee.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts for debt collectors, but it should give you some idea of the things a debt collector should not do.
GCSARMS will not tolerate these practices. If informed, they will view any violation seriously, and take the steps necessary to prevent further violation. If however, you believe that a debt collector has violated the law, you have the right to contact the Department of Fair Trading in your state, the ACCC or other relevant agency to complain.