Questions? by Valerie Everett
What are my rights when a debt collector or creditor is trying to collect from me?
Your rights as a consumer are protected under the Fair Debt Collection Act.
What types of debt collection practices does the Fair Debt Collections Act disallow?
Debt collectors may not harass or abuse you or any third parties. This includes:
- threats of violence or harm;
- Use of obscenities or other profane language;
- Repeated use of the telephone to annoy someone;
- Publishing a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
- Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Debt collectors may not use false or misleading statements to attempt to collect a debt. This includes:
- Misrepresenting themselves as attorneys or government representatives;
- Falsely implying that you have committed a crime;
- Stating that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
- Misrepresenting themselves as operating or working for a credit bureau;
- Misrepresenting the amount of your debt;
- Indicating that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they actually are;
- Threatening to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages without intending to actually do so, or if doing so is not a legal action;
- Threatening that actions against you, such as a lawsuit, will be taken when such actions legally may not be taken, or when debt collectors do not intend to take such action.
Debt collectors may not:
- Give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau.
- Use a false name to attempt to collect the debt.
- Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency and is not an official document.
- Send documents that look like official court or government agency documents but are not.
Other unfair debt collection practices include:
- Collecting an amount that is greater than the debt, unless state law permits such a charge;
- Depositing a post-dated check early or using deceptive practices to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
- Contacting you by postcard.
- Unless your property can be taken legally, threatening to take your property.
Are debt collectors allowed to contact me at work?
Yes, unless you let the debt collector know you are not allowed to receive calls. If this has been communicated to the debt collector they may not call you at work.
Are debt collectors allowed to contact others regarding my debt?
A debt collector may only contact third parties once to discover or confirm your residence, phone number and workplace. If you have an attorney, a debt collector must contact them in regards to the debt. A collector may not disclose details of the debt to anyone other than you or your spouse.
What specific information is the debt collector required to tell me about the debt?
Debt collectors must provide written notice of the amount owed and instructions on how to dispute the debt within five days of initial contact.
What should I do if I believe a debt collector has violated the law?
If you believe your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Act have been violated, you may sue in state or federal court within one year of the violation. If you believe you have a legitimate case against a debt collector, speak with an experience collections attorney today.
Are debt collectors allowed to continue to contact me if I believe I don’t owe any money?
You may prevent debt collectors from contacting you by sending a letter disputing the debt within 30 days of receiving the initial debt collection notice. If the collector provides proof of the debt, such as a bill, collection activities may continue.
Are creditors or debt collectors allowed to make automated calls to my cell phone?
On December 20, 1992, a rules and regulations implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act went into effect. These rules and regulations allow consumers to file suit against companies who make prerecorded, automated or auto dialed calls to their cell phones.
How can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?
You may stop a debt collector from contacting you by sending a letter to the collector asking them to stop. After receiving the letter, a debt collector may only contact you to inform you that there will be no further contact or that they intend to take specific action—possibly a lawsuit.
When can I dispute a debt?
You may dispute a debt, either orally or in writing, at anytime. This will require debt collectors and credit reporting agencies to mark the debt as disputed. Here is a template form for disputing a debt with a creditor.