Is it your first time using debt collection services? There’s a good chance you have a few questions up your sleeve about what your debt collector can and cannot do for you. Here, we go into detail about what kind of behaviour is acceptable and what is downright illegal when it comes to debt collection.
Means of contact
Debt collectors have the jurisdiction to contact a person by phone, letter, email, social media or face-to-face.
Restrictions on contact
Though debt collectors can utilise a variety of ways to get in contact with someone who owes you money, there are restrictions on when contact can be made:
- Phone: a debt collector cannot call more than three times a week, or 10 times over the course of a month. Furthermore, debt collectors can only call between 7:30am-9:00pm on weekdays and 9:00am-9:00pm on weekends.
- Email/social media: while debt collectors may use this kind of technology to make contact with a person, they must have reasonable certainty that the account is not shared with another person and their message can only be viewed by the subject in question.
- Face-to-face: this type of contact should only be used as a last resort. If a subject does not respond to phone calls, letters or emails, a debt collector may visit him or her at home. If this is the case, the debt collector may only visit between 9:00am-9:00pm (both weekdays and weekends). Visits must also be restricted to no more than once a month.
Debt collectors also cannot contact a person on public holidays.
Laws on privacy
Debt collectors are required to respect a person’s privacy and as such, they cannot share information about someone’s financial situation without his or her permission.
Debt collectors are prevented from carrying out certain actions. It is against the law for debt collectors to exhibit any of the following behaviour:
- Making threats, trespassing or using intimidation. Debt collectors may not threaten a subject (including threatening physical force towards a person), damage a property, block access to a property or remain on a property when asked to leave (unless they have a Court Order).
- Harassing or verbally abusing a person. A debt collector is also not at liberty to shout at a subject, make demeaning comments towards him or her, or use obscene or racist language.
- Engaging in deceptive conduct. Last but not least, debt collectors are prohibited from making false or misleading statements about the amount of money a subject owes or the consequences that will arise if a debt is not settled. They also cannot send letters that have been disguised as court documents or pose as a court or government body.