You’re at the point at which your heart sinks when the phone rings because it could be one of those pesky bill collectors calling – again — about your delinquent accounts. You’re in a tough spot, but you still have rights.
Here are facts about debt collector calls you need to know.
Debt collectors are hounding you for payment, but you have more power than you likely think. You’re backed by a formidable federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that regulates actions by third-party debt collectors. These are people who purchase debts from creditors such as credit card issuers.
Here are ways you’re protected by the law:
You Dictate Communication with Collectors
What you should do is call Freedom Debt Relief to regain your financial footing. But in the interim, do you know you can regulate how and when third-party debt collectors contact you? Well, you can. They can’t phone you whenever the heck they want, and they aren’t allowed to tell third parties about your outstanding accounts.
So, what are the rules? Debt collectors:
- Are not allowed to contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Are not permitted to phone you on the job once you tell them not to.
- Must communicate through your lawyer if you have representation.
- Cannot discuss your debts with third parties such as your family members, employer or neighbors.
- Must stop communication altogether if you request that. Just note that the collector can still sue you, which can result in wage garnishment.
You Needn’t Abide Abuse
The federal law blocks collectors from employing abusive or harassing tactics in their attempt to get paid. Overly assertive tactics may be a sign that you’re dealing with a scam debt collector, so keep a record of any abusive practices.
Specifically, debt collectors may not:
- Curse at you.
- Issue threats or engage in violence.
- Phone you constantly to annoy or harass.
- Phone you for payment without disclosing that they’re debt collectors.
- List your debt for sale to the public.
Debt Collectors Must Be Honest
The law states that debt collectors may not feed you crap. In other words, they are prohibited from using any deceptive, false or misleading representation to get paid.
To wit, they cannot misrepresent:
- The amount of the debt.
- Whether the debt is past the statute of limitations.
- Legal consequences of not paying what’s owed.
- Themselves as another firm, professional or authority figure.
Collectors Cannot Engage in Unfair Practices
Beyond communications, the Federal Act restricts collectors’ behavior.
- Request postdated checks for payment for use as a threat or for intentions of criminal prosecution.
- Deposit or threaten to deposit a postdated check before you ask them to.
- Swipe or threaten to take your property if that’s not permitted.
- Collect more than what’s owed.
Debt Collectors Must Validate the Debt
The onus is on the collector to prove that you owe what they say you do. This begins with a validation letter, and if you want a verification letter, they must come up with that, too.
The validation letter must contain:
- The amount you owe.
- The creditor’s name.
- A statement saying the collector will assume the debt is legit; unless you dispute it within 30 days.
- A statement that if you do dispute the debt in time, the collector will verify the debt by mail.
- A statement that if you seek info about the original creditor within 30 days of initial contact, that must be provided.
Now that you’ve gotten the facts about debt collector calls, you can go about solving your financial situation with less attendant stress. Keep your head up, and full steam ahead.