“I have received various calls from a debt collector, acting on behalf of one of my creditors at all hours of the night. I have blocked the number but the calls do not seem to stop. The Collector even went as far as to threaten me and my family should I fail to make payments directly to him. What can I do to stop this harassment?”
The above mentioned process is regulated by law in particularly The National Debt Collection Act 114 of 1998.
In terms of this Act the following is extremely important to note:
Section 15 (1) states that a debt collector may be found guilty by the Council of improper conduct if he or she, or a person for whom he or she is vicariously liable –
- Uses force or threatens to use force against a debtor or any other person with whom the debtor has family ties or a familial or personal relationship;
(b) Acts towards a debtor or any other person with whom the debtor has family ties or a familial or personal relationship, in an excessive or intimidating manner;
(c) Makes use of fraudulent or misleading representations, including –
- The simulation of legal procedures;
- The use of simulated official or legal documents;
- Representation as a police officer, sheriff, officer of the court or any similar person; or
- The making of unjustified threats to enforce rights;
- Is convicted of an offence of which violence, dishonesty, extortion or intimidation is an element;
(e) Spreads or threatens to spread false information concerning the creditworthiness of a debtor;
(f) Contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of the code of conduct contemplated in section 14’
(g) Contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act; or
- Behaves or acts in any manner amounting to the conduct, other than that mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) or (g), which is improper in terms of a regulation.
It’s simple; your account has been handed over to them to recover the money you owe the credit provider. They are paid a percentage of the amount collected, while charging service fees for doing so. This fee is also regulated under the abovementioned act and should you be of the view that the fees is exuberant, the account of the debt collector may be taxed in terms of section 19 (3) of the act by the clerk of the court or costs committee of a provincial law society.
It is further very important to first verify any claims made by a debt collector by requesting a statement of the amount owed including a calculation on how the amount was calculated as well as copies of the loan documents on which the debt is based. It is your right to have access to same and should the debt collector refuse same you have the right to complain to the Debt Collectors Council.
You are further entitled to refuse any payment until you are provided with the requested details. Take note that you should reframe from signing any admission of liability, or consent to judgement forms if you are not sure that the debt is truly owing to the creditor.
It is further very important that you must communicate with the debt collector as soon as you are contacted requesting the abovementioned documents alternatively contact your attorney and mandate him or her to communicate with the debt collector as soon as possible. Consumers should rather be transparent with their creditors from the moment they sense a crisis is on the way. With the right approach at the right time, more affordable payment plans can be arranged.
However should the Debt Collector not adhere to the abovementioned act you have the right to complain and you should not be bullied by the Debt Collector who refuses to adhere to the provisions of the abovementioned act.