What Rules Do Debt Collectors Have to Follow When Calling Me?

By: Dwight Eisen

If you experience the unfortunate circumstance of falling behind in repaying your creditors, or an error occurs on you accounts, a debt collector may contact you. However, even though you may be contacted by a collection agency, you still have rights and are to be treated fairly. There are rules that have been created by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which a debt collector is required to follow when they call you. These rules help protect debtors from abusive collectors.

Rules when contacting a debtor: A collector is permitted to contact you in person, by telephone, mail, fax, or telegram. Unless you agree, they are not permitted to contact you at inconvenient places or times (I.E. before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.). Furthermore, they must refrain from contacting you at work if the debt collector is aware that your employer disapproves.

Rules about contacting a third party in regard to your debt: The debt collector must contact your attorney, if you have one, and not you. If you do not have a lawyer, a collector is permitted to contact other people to find out information such as where you live, your phone number, and where you work. A collector is typically banned from contacting other people more than once.

Rules regarding written notice: The debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after the initial contact that tells you:
&bullThe amount of money you owe
&bullThe creditors name to who you owe the money
&bullWhat action can be taken if it is your belief that you don't owe any money

Rules when a consumer does not owe money: If you send the collection agency an official letter that states you do not owe money, and this letter is sent within 30 days after receiving the written notice, a debt collector is not permitted to contact you. That being said, keep in mind that a collector is allowed to resume collection activities if you are provided proof of the debt you owe, such as being sent a legitimate copy of a bill regarding the amount due.

Rules pertaining to harassment: Debt collectors are not permitted to harass, abuse, or oppress you or any other person (third party) they contact. More specifically, this means a debt collector is not allowed to:
&bullUse profanity or obscene language
&bullThreaten violence or harm
&bullLie or make any false implications
&bullMake frequent phone calls for the purpose of annoying someone
&bullProvide false credit information about the debtor to anyone
&bullSend you unofficial documents

Rules regarding what a debt collector cannot say and cannot practice: Debt collectors are not permitted to sate:
&bullYou will be arrested if the debt is not paid
&bullThey will seize, garnish, attach or sell the debtors property or wages. This is only permitted if this is the intention of the collection agency or creditor and is legal.
&bullLawsuits or other actions will be taken against the debtor. Unless legal action can be taken and the intention exists this is not permitted.

Debt collectors are not allowed to take part in unfair practices when they attempt to collect debt from you. They are not permitted to:
&bullCollect any amount greater than what is owed, unless this charge is permitted by your state law.
&bullPrematurely deposit a postdated check
&bullDeceive you into paying for telegrams or accepting collect calls
&bullConfiscate, or threaten to confiscate property, unless it can be legally done.

If a debt collector violates any of the above rules, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Make sure you record the violation, the time of the call, the debtors name and their collection agency, etc. Furthermore, you may also be able to sue a third-party collection agency if they violate your rights.

Understanding your rights when you are contacted by a debt collector helps to keep you in control of a difficult situation. In fact, knowing your rights is how you can protect yourself from almost anything, including other irritating and unwanted calls including telemarketers and pranksters. Thus, if you need to find information on a mysterious caller, you can and maintain control of your privacy.

Debt, Loans & Business Cashflow
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