We’re taking a fresh look into the issue of debt collectors harassing people and ignoring the guidelines that are meant to protect consumers. As part of our investigation, we’re hoping to speak to people who’ve had bad experiences with debt collectors.
If you or someone you know has had an experience with debt collectors, please leave a comment or get in touch. You can also email us at email@example.com if you’d rather keep your details private.
We have never been pursued by debt collectors, but have had some phone calls from those trying to track down debtors with our surname. All have been courteous. If I have asked they have only hinted that it might be something like a debt. When I have said that we don’t know them, they have taken us off the list and didn’t call again.
I have not been harassed over my debts but for those of a relative of the same unusual surname. I got a series of phone calls on the landline (were are in the phone book) asking about the relative’s whereabouts and to get a contact for them. I am never going to give out such information to a voice on the phone and said so. I asked who they were or represented and they refused to say. So I said that there was even less chance of me giving anything to an anonymous voice.
The collection agency called again and again with me getting less civil. Same story. I asked exactly what they expected to achieve by continuing to call as I had refused them several times and they just repeated the story that they really needed to contact the subject but no reason why.
I called the phone provider at the time, I think it was Telstra, and they advised that unless the calls were harassment they could do nothing. They said use an answering machine to check callers. Apparently the definition of harassment is more than several times a week, or at least that must be exceeded for them to get slightly interested.
In the end I lost it with the debt collector and each time they called I refused to listen but instructed them to perform unlikely activities upon themselves and hung up. After a few repeats of this they gave up. Why does it have to get to this?
I don’t know what the rules are but either they are insufficient to protect people or they are not enforced. I suspect the latter to some degree as some tech would have to spend time identifying my caller and gathering evidence on the number of times the agency called and then present a case to whatever authority. I reckon no phone provider is going to spend time to do that so it doesn’t happen.
Based on my experience it seems debt collectors do as they please on the phone at least. The truly stupid part of it is the assumption that I would change my mind after a while, that after refusing them 3 or 5 times I would recant and tell them whatever they wanted to know.
I’ve used collectors twice - to no avail - my experience is that my own detective work was more effective and gave better results, in one case hopefully preventing a renter from trashing and doing a runner in someone else’s rental property - though obviously I wasn’t successful in recovering money owed.
I use that approach for all unsolicited calls where it is clear within a few seconds that they won’t be reasonable or it’s an obvious scam
I have had to deal with debt collection companies a few times.
Sometimes a legitimate debt that had somehow got lost in ‘the system’, and other times the wrong person being pursued, me.
If they called on the phone, then I made it clear that the only communication would be by mail or email. All further calls were ignored or went to answering service.
If they came to the door, then I had my mobile in hand ready to call the police.
Once the ground rules of all communication in writing were established, these issues were sorted out in due course.