Stopping The Scary Phone Calls

by : Tom Ambrozewicz

If you have trouble maintaining good credit, you may find yourself bothered by phone calls from collection agencies. If your debt has been handed over to one such agency to handle, you have already put a black mark on your credit report. However, it is important to know your rights when it comes to debt. Phone calls from collection agencies can be unethical and by understanding the laws regarding good credit, you can protect yourself from illegal practices.

The most important law to review if you think you are being treated unethically is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, or the FDCPA. This law will give you all the information you need to understand if the company with which you are dealing is participating in illegal practices. If they are not, contact your government officials or the police to file a complaint.

First and foremost, understand that you have 30 days to review the debt they say you owe. Every once in awhile, people make mistakes, so this 30 day grace period gives you enough time to make sure everything is reported accurately. Before this, debt collectors should not be harassing you by phone or by other means. After the initial 30 days, your phone may start ringing off the hook with collectors urging you to pay your bills. However, be aware of what they may legally say and what is not only unethical, but also against the law.

A debt collector may not threaten you with anything he or she does not have the power to do. For example, bill collectors cannot threaten to use your lack of good credit to ruin your reputation by telling your friends, employer, boss, or anyone else about your debt. In almost every single case, the collector may only share information about your debt with you, your spouse, and the lender. Anything else is a violation, and you can sue a collection agency if they disclose your information to anyone else.

Your collector also cannot threaten to ruin your credit history. This is an empty threat-the damage has already been done to your credit report. Debts are only allowed to be reported for 7 to 10 years, depending on the reporting agency, and so federal law does not allow a collection agency to further ruin your credit in any way. By threatening this, as with threatening to tell others about your debt, the collection company is in violation of the FDCPA, and it is your duty to report the agency to the authorities. A collector also cannot threaten to have you arrested or garnish your wages.

Basically, a collection agency must take you to court to do anything. If they threaten anything other than this, you should not only hang up the phone, but you should also call the police, who can assist you in filing an official complaint. Your good credit is on the line-if a collection agency is misusing their authority, they could be mis-reporting your debt as well. Know your rights to protect yourself.