A federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, restricts what debt collectors can do to harass you regarding debts. In many states, the state laws don’t provide much defense from harassment. However, the federal law applies to all debt collectors, which includes lawyers.
The law can be applied just to “debt collectors.” This means that the person contacting you is collecting the debt that you owe to somebody else. In the event the company or business that you must pay back calls you directly to collect their debt, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t cover them. However, if the company or business hires a debt collection agency to collect the debts, the law does apply to the debt collection agency.
A debt collector may make contact with you over the telephone, by mail, in person, or by fax. The debt collector cannot call you at unreasonable times or places. Typically, this means that they should not call you before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night unless you agree to let them contact you at those hours. A debt collector might contact you where you work unless you inform them that their employer disapproves of this. If you do get contacted at work, promptly notify the debt collector if your employer forbids this.
You can request that the collector stop getting in touch with you. You should do this by writing a letter to the debt collection agency in combination with letting them know over the telephone. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter for your own records. When the debt collection agency gets the letter, they shouldn’t make contact with you again other than to tell you should they be going to take specific action concerning the debt.
The debt collector might contact other people like friends, relatives, or neighbors to uncover information about where you live and work. Normally, they are only able to contact these people once. In many instances, they aren’t permitted to tell these people about your debt, but only obtain information regarding your address and work.
If a lawyer represents you on this debt, tell the debt collector of your attorney’s name, address and phone number. The debt collector should then only contact the lawyer.
A debt collector may get in touch with you initially by phone. If they do, they are expected to send you a written notice within five days informing you the amount of the debt you owe, the specific creditor that you owe the money to, and what action you should take if you do not owe the money.
If you do not owe all or part of the money that is being collected, you request that the debt collector confirm the debt. For instance, if you signed a loan contract, you can request that they send you a copy of this document. If you challenge the debt, you need to inform the debt collector in writing within thirty days after you are first contacted by the collection agency. You should write them a letter explaining why you don’t owe the money and requesting that they confirm the debt. During the 30-day period immediately after you are first contacted, the collection agency shouldn’t get in touch with you again until they provide you proof of your debt.
Debt collectors may call you and request that you pay the debt. Nevertheless, they can’t harass you or abuse you. These are the kinds of things that they should never do:
or legal papers, if they are not;
Should you owe more than one debt to the same collector, you can specify the debt you are paying. If you clearly indicate that you’re paying one account, the debt collector should apply the payment to the account you request. You should always retain documents of your repayments and correspondence with any debt collector.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you the right to file a lawsuit in state or federal court within one year from the violation. If you win, you are able to regain damages for your loss, court fees, and lawyer’s fees. Do not forget that the one-year time period runs from the date the debt collector violated the law. You must work promptly to contact one of our attorneys if you feel a debt collector has violated the law. If you neglect to report your lawsuit within one year of the violation, you forfeit your right to do so.
You can also notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of violations. They are unable to file lawsuits for you, but they can certainly investigate your complaints. Their address is: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580. You can even file a complaint via the Internet.
It is best to keep copies of everything that the debt collection agency sends you. Use a file folder or large envelope and keep all of the notices together. Always keep copies of everything that you send to them.
When they contact you, make sure to write down notes of the exact words that they used while speaking with
you on the telephone. Right after you hang up; write a summary of everything they said, and anything you told them. Note the time and date they contacted you. Make sure you record their names and phone numbers and the company they are with.
If you feel you have been harassed by any debt collector, you should speak to our office today for specific legal advice on your problem. If you’re elderly, or have low income, please call today for more information or assistance.
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