Understand up front, debt collectors can and will contact you by phone and by mail. They can contact you on your cell phone and at your office desk phone. They can even contact your friends, family, and neighbors. With that said, there are limits. Rules exist that which guide behavior and tactics. Laws at the federal and state level protect consumers from abusive and fraudulent debt collection practices.
Making matters worse, sometimes the debt that the consumer is told to owe is actually not owed. Therefore, prior to understanding your legal rights in regard to debt collector harassment, you should understanding that checking the validity of the debt is the first step to resolving the dispute.
If you have been contacted by a debt collector, demand the caller’s name, the name of the company for whom the caller works, the name of the original creditor to the debt, and of course ask for the amount of the claimed debt. Be sure to get the address of the parties too.
If you have never heard of the original creditor and or cannot recall having ever doing business with the creditor, chances are strong that the claimed debt is not owed by the consumer. Additionally, if the caller will not give you identifying information, chances are that the collector is bogus.
These types of bogus collection agencies can and should be reported to the Attorney General in the state in which the call was received.
Let us assume that the past due debt is true. What are the rules governing collections activity? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This Act regulates collections and collectors.
Consumers have a right to know who is calling them; names and addresses. They also have a right to know the name and address of the original creditor that has claimed a debt owed. The amount of the debt must be told to the debtor. Such may seem obvious, but what consumers don’t always know is that such must be given to the debtor in writing and not just over the phone.
In fact, the debtor can demand that the collector send to him/her a validation notice listing the above referenced information in addition to a way in which to make good on the debt.
The collector cannot harass and swear at the debtor because the law precludes such. False statements are also precluded. No calls can be made to the debtor before eight in the morning and after nine at night. If you have an attorney and the collector knows this and how to contact the attorney, than the collector must not directly contact you. In fact, you should always consider hiring an experienced debt collection harassment attorney to protect your rights—your attorneys’ fees can be paid for if you are successful.
False threats, verbal abuse, contacting the debtor when there should be no contact, are all forms of illegal harassment and such can be stopped.
If you or anyone you know has been subjected to an abusive, deceptive, or unfair debt collection effort by any business or firm, contact the Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center for a FREE evaluation to learn how you can protect your rights and get your attorneys’ fees paid.