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Harrassed by a Debt Collector or Creditor?

Harrassment is considered to be (from the Free dictionary);
ha·rass (h-rs, hrs) tr.v. ha·rassed, ha·rass·ing, ha·rass·es

  • 1. To irritate or torment persistently.
  • 2. To wear out; exhaust.
  • 3. To impede and exhaust (an enemy) by repeated attacks or raids

with synonyms such as follows;

  • To badger is to nag or tease persistently
  • To pester is to inflict a succession of petty annoyances

Harrassed by a Debt Collector?

What can you do?

In New Zealand, there is very little that can be done without legal intervention.
New Zealand does not have in place debtor protection that countries such as the USA has in the form of their FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), which protects consumers from the actions of over zelous collectors and creditors.

New Zealand does however have a form of protection for consumers in legislation. This legislation is the Harrassment act 1997.
The Harrassment act 1997. lays out the two types of harrassment, Criminal Harrassment and Civil Harrassment

In relation to debt it comes under the Civil Harrassment definition, however a collector would have a defense if their behaviour could be considerd as a reasonable effort to collect a debt (see section 17 - lawful purpose).

Lawful Purpose?

What could be considered lawful in relation to debt arrangements is becoming more and more blurred, with collectors using what can only be considered harrassment, by continuing collection action after a debt arrangement has been put in place.

Demands increasing!! - that is the feedback from a number of sources, that say.. I am under an arrangement, but i am still getting calls, e-mails and letters.

How Do I Get Them To Stop?

This is the biggest single question in the debtor community at the moment, and with collectors seeming to advise what a person can afford, it would seem that they should be subject to the Financial Advisors Act

This would scare most collectors, who it seems demand more than a person can afford, demanding bank statements to prove to people they can afford more than is actually payable

so.. If you dont have sufficient to pay, use the same tactics that they use on you

  • Advise them what you can afford
  • Set up electronic Payments
  • Ask them not to call
  • and if they do..
  • Send them a Harrassment letter.

If they continue to harrass you, cease payments.. Then consult your solicitor in order to setup a restraining order.

Be aware however
Most collectors and creditors know that if you cant afford to repay the debt, chances are that you cant afford a solicitor to pursue the creditor for harrassment.
Although you as the aggrieved party can seek costs if you are being harrassed by a creditor.

A Sample harrassment letter

Your letter to cease communicationm should read something like...

I (your name) have advised your company that I have insufficient funds to repay the debt which your company has been charged with collecting.
I have setup an arrangement for the payment based on an amount that I can afford taking into account my household expenses.
I request that no futher communication be made directly to myself at any other time, other than to serve me with legal documents pertaining to commencement of legal action.
You have in the past repeatedly contacted me in relation to this debt, by telephone, mail, and electronic communication, I now request that this be stopped immediately.

Failure to desist non-legal communication will constitute harrassment persuant to the Harrassment Act 1997