By Katherine Hymer
Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers. This week, Debt Recoveries Australia’s Account Executive Katherine Hymer shares the do’s and don’ts of debt collecting.
Here is a list of 7 do’s and don’ts of debt collecting that Debt Recoveries Australia (DRA) follow when recovering debts. This list will hopefully give you an insight into how DRA recovers debts, whilst ensuring to remain honest, fair and act within The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) guidelines.
1. Do: Make contact with a Debtor by calling their home, mobile or place of employment.
In DRA, we endeavor to make contact with Debtors via their personal address and number/s first, but failing to get in contact, we will call a Debtor’s place of employment if we have this number available to us.
Don’t: Disclose what the call is about to anyone that isn’t the Debtor.
Debt collectors are only permitted to disclose the matter of a call to the individual the debt is concerning. At DRA, we take great care in making sure that a Debtor’s employer or co-workers are not aware that the Debtor is being pursued for a debt.
However, if the Debtor has given permission for us to be in contact with a representative (e.g., a partner, lawyer or caretaker, etc.), then we may discuss the matter with this person also. DRA takes the upmost care in protecting a Debtor’s privacy as we don’t want anyone to feel humiliated or embarrassed in front of their associates.
2. Do: Private message Debtors on social media services such as Facebook.
Some Debtors are surprised when we send them a private message on Facebook. They may claim that our contacting them is an “invasion of privacy”. Social media pages such as Facebook are a public domain that enables anyone (including debt collecting agencies) to make contact with another person.
In DRA, we use social media sites as tools to help us find and contact Debtor’s.
Don’t: Comment on your social media timeline, previous posts and pictures
We do not send messages or post comments on social media platforms that can be shared or viewed by parties other than the Debtor. For instance, we will not make any remarks or comments on an expensive looking ‘holiday photo album’ a Debtor had just posted.
3. Do: Request a financial statement, if the debtor cannot afford to pay in full.
In the case where a Debtor is financially poor, debt collectors are entitled to request a financial statement. This gives evidence to support the debtors claim that they are financially poor.
In DRA, once we have evidence to support the Debtor’s financial situation, we are then able to organize a payment plan that would be appropriate for the debtor’s situation.
Don’t: Use profane language, verbal insults and humiliation tactics.
Being rude to a debtor not only violates the ACCC guideline, but it will likely leave a Debtor feeling hurt and angry which can jeopardize the chance of debt recovery.
In DRA, we aim to establish a healthy relationship with Debtors and to offer our support. This encourages Debtors to pay off their debt.
4. Do: Make contact via email, SMS, Facebook or telephone call.
In DRA, we are persistent when pursuing a debt. If a Debtor fails to return our call, we will make contact with them through various other points of contact. But we only make contact with Debtors within appropriate hours, and a limited number of times per week and per month.
Appropriate hours of contact according to the ACCC Guidelines: Contact by telephone: Monday to Friday: 7.30 am to 9 pm, Weekends 9 am to 9 pm. All workplace contact Debtor’s normal working hours if known, or 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays.
Recommended frequency of contact: No more than 3 times per week, or 10 times per month (when contact is actually made, as distinct from attempted contact) and only when it is necessary to do so.
Don’t: Call outside of appropriate hours.
Debt collectors are prohibited to make contact with Debtors outside of the hours stipulated by the ACCC Guidelines.
However, at DRA, if we have made an arrangement to call a Debtor outside of the allowed times then this is allowed. For example, if a Debtor has requested we call after them 10pm because that’s when they finish work, then we will arrange a call for this time. Without invitation or agreement, then we won’t and are not allowed to call at this time.
5. Do: Be honest and transparent with communication.
All debt collectors must be honest with the debt amount owing and who they work for. In DRA, we understand that all information related to the debt must be supplied to the Debtor upon request. We do not make false claims about what we will do if a Debtor does not pay the debt.
Don’t: Be deceptive and/or misleading with your identity.
Falsifying information about the debt amount owing or present themselves in a way that is misleading or deceptive. DRA ensures that we are transparent and honest in communications with our clients as well as those who we are pursuing for debts. We do not mislead Debtors, nor do we coerce them to divulge information they may not have provided had they known they were speaking with a debt collector.
6. Do: Keep the client up to date with progress reports.
In DRA, we ensure that all of our clients are informed and up to date on the progress of a debt recovery. This allows for open communication between our clients and staff, which is a key value that DRA upholds. We use a software called Debtcol that provides free access to our clients to get updates on their matters with us.
Don’t: Continually pursue a Debtor once the debt has been paid.
Congratulations! If a Debtor we have been pursuing has paid off their entire debt owing that was stipulated in the contract, then we cease contact with the Debtor. Once a Debtor has paid their debt, we no longer have business with them. Our job is done!
7. Do: Call Debt Recoveries Australia to begin your debt recovery claim.
If you have any outstanding debts, call Debt Recoveries Australia so we can begin to recover them for you! We also work in conjunction with our legal team, ADC Legal. ADC Legal will pursue your cases legally if need be.
Don’t: Wait any longer to recover your outstanding debts.
Don’t wait until you have an overwhelming number of debts you need to be recovered. Let Debt Recoveries Australia help you by recovering your outstanding debts for you!
ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers is a legal practice specialising in commercial advice and litigation, debt recovery and insurance claims recovery disputes. We are also providing free templates for you to use on your debt collection. For more details, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 799 820. You may also Skype us at adclegal.