Debt Collectors: Know Your Rights Against Wrong Practices

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Doomsday Debt Collectors debt1

Debt collectors may be within their right to pursue repayment, but you should know how to protect yourself against doomsday debt collectors and their extreme tactics.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

First, you should be aware that there are laws in place that govern the practice of debt collection. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was written for your protection and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, our national consumer protection agency. This Act covers a variety of debts, including personal and household, but not business debt. Examples of covered debts are: home, auto, medical, and credit card debt.

The Facts about Debt Collectors

  • May not use abusive or deceptive tactics
  • Must send the debtor a validation notice within 5 days of initiating contact
  • Written validation notice must include: amount owed, the creditor to whom money is owed, and what to do if the debtor says they don’t owe
  • Must contact during reasonable hours (Ex. not earlier than 8 a.m. or later than 9 p.m.)
  • May not attempt contact at a person’s work (with a written or oral statement)
  • May contact third parties for a person’s contact info (often limited to one time)
  • Must contact your attorney, if you are being legally represented
  • May not discuss the details of the debt with those outside of the debtor, debtor’s spouse or representing attorney
  • Must stop contacting the debtor upon receipt of a written notice by debtor indicating the debt is not owed or seeking proof (within 30 days from date of validation notice)
  • May continue to contact the debtor once proof of debt has been provided

Putting a stop to Debt Collection

Your first conversation with a collector should be an attempt at resolution. Determine whether you owe the debt. Depending on the outcome of that initial conversation, decide how you will proceed. If you want to stop a collector from contacting you, provide it in writing. Be sure to make a copy of everything you send and mail the document by certified mail with a return receipt. From that point, the debt collector may tell you that there will be no further contact, or they may indicate their next step. If a creditor still wants to collect from you at this point, they may pursue legal action by filing a lawsuit.

In the event that you are sued by a debt collector, respond or have your lawyer respond by the date indicated in the lawsuit to stay within your rights.

Reporting Debt Collection Misconduct

Notify the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of a debt collector who doesn’t operate within the bounds of the law. Additionally, inform your state Attorney General’s Office, and inquire about the state laws that differ from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as, your rights.

Christian Credit Counselors is a non-profit organization that was created to help individuals and families regain control of their finances through the use of educational tools, credit counseling and other resources. For more resources, visit www.christiancreditcounselors.org.

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