Most Americans have been in debt at least once their lives. Sometimes these debts go unpaid, and if you miss several payments in a row, you might receive phone calls from debt collectors. Collections are a part of many businesses’ operations, but when debt collections become harassing, threatening or repeated, there are steps you can take.
So, what can you do about it? First, educate yourself about what collectors can and cannot do. When it comes to debt collectors, keep the following in mind:
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It is Illegal for Collectors to Call During Certain Times of the Day
Consumers are afforded protection under federal law by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This governs how creditors seek payment from debtors. Collectors may not call you late at night or early in the morning. In fact, the hours they can call are restricted to between 8 am and 9 pm.
Under the same law, collectors are also forbidden to:
- Claim your debt is larger than it is
- Falsely threaten that they will seize your property or that you will be arrested
- Falsely claim to be a lawyer
- Discuss your debt with others, except for a lawyer or credit bureau
Collection Agencies Can Call Your Neighbors, Friends and Family
It’s true, a collection agency can contact people you know to speak with you or determine your location. What they may not do is discuss any details of your debt with others. Also, they may not call you at work if your employer prohibits personal calls. That has not stopped rogue debt collectors from pushing beyond the law and attempting to shame consumers.
The Collection Agency Calling You Might Not Be Your Creditor
In-house collections refer to the original creditor like a bank or credit card company, while third-party debt collectors are anyone attempting to collect a debt who is not in-house. For example, a third-party collector could include recovery agencies or debt buyers who purchase old or outdated debt once an original creditor has given up on them.
In some cases, sold debt can be so old it no longer appears on your credit report. That means the company calling you might have nothing to do with the original debt. They won’t know your circumstances or your ability to pay, and unfortunately, they might not care.
You Can Send a Written Notice to Collectors to Stop Calling
Once a collection agency has received written notice asking them to no longer contact you, the calls should stop. Of course, you must first acquire the collection agency’s address, which might entail speaking with them to obtain the necessary information. And even though they might stop contacting you, they could still call any codebtors or even your friends and family to seek your whereabouts.
Document Your Debt Collector Calls
If you’re being harassed by repeated debt collection calls, the first step is to document every instance of the call. Here are the steps you can take for proper documentation:
- Note the date and time a collector calls
- Note the name of the agency
- Note the person you speak with and the details of the call
- Keep all the documentation in a collections log, binder, notepad or whatever works best for you
If You Have a Case, Time is Limited to File
If a collection company has been harassing you late at night or at work, they are in clear violation of the FDCPA. But even if you have a case, time is limited to file. Generally, you have one year from when the first violation occurred, so do not delay in contacting a consumer protection attorney if you believe your rights have been violated.
Free Consultation with a Consumer Protection Lawyer
You should never have to endure debt collectors harassing you day and night. If you need assistance, we will provide you with a free, no-risk consultation. We can explain your rights and evaluate your case. Most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe nothing unless we win. Contact our team of debt collection attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth Hiller today.
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