When you’re in the sights of a debt collector, you can really feel as if you’re under fire. They can be disruptive, assaultive, and downright rude or even threatening. However, you do have rights and there are laws governing the behavior of debt collectors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was designed to keep collections agencies on the level and to make sure that consumers dealing with them were having their rights protected. However, as usual, there are some collectors who still believe that anything goes when it comes to shaking down a debtor.
This is a little cheat sheet that lets you know when collection agencies are breaking the law and your rights are being violated.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Violations
- All types of debt are covered. A collector claiming that the debt he is trying to collect is not covered by the FDCPA is lying. It doesn’t matter if it’s medical bills, student loans, payday loans, and even credit card debt. As long as these are personal, family, or household debts, they are covered under the act.
- A collector may not contact you before 8 AM or after 9 PM, unless you have previously agreed to it.
- A collector may not contact you at work if you have told them not to contact you at work.
- Collectors may not pretend to be someone else in order to collect a debt. For instance they cannot pretend to be representing a government agency, law enforcement, or represent themselves as an attorney. This stands whatever the method of communication, be it by phone, text, email, or letter.
- Debt collectors must disclose that they are debt collectors.
- Debt collectors may not contact third parties for any other reason other than to obtain information about your, home phone number, and work location. They are not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your lawful spouse (not your boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, parent etc.) or your attorney.
- If an attorney is involved in representing you, the debt collector must contact the attorney and refrain from contacting you.
- Debt collectors must send written validation notices which include the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor to whom they allege you owe the money. Additionally they must provide directions on how to proceed if you wish to contest the debt.
- Debt collectors cannot garnish Social Security benefits, SSI benefits, veterans’ benefits, FEMA assistance, military survivors’ benefits, and other retirement or disability benefits within the federal system. The exemption to this rule is student loans, child support, alimony payments, or delinquent taxes.
Moreover there are certain practices that should be immediately reported to the appropriate authorities. These include threats of violence or harm, obscene language, or calling repeatedly after being told to stop. They may not falsely claim that you are being charged with a crime, or that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, they may not represent themselves as working for a credit reporting company, or misrepresent the nature of forms that have been mailed to you.
If you are dealing with one persistent collector, or a barrage of them, I urge you to call the office and set up a free consultation, so we can make your life a little more peaceful and your debts a little more reasonable.