If debt collectors are blowing up your phone, you don’t have to sit there and take it. You have more say-so than maybe you think. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) ensures it.
Here’s more about that federal law.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
This law covers the actions of debt collectors who purchase delinquent debts from an original creditor such as a credit card issuer. The “debt collections law” protects consumers against predatory acts including bugging you early mornings or late evenings, using harassing language or tone, and chasing you down for a false debt.
Exerting your rights can help you deal with debt collectors – and perhaps lower your blood pressure.
How The FDCPA Protects You
Whether you know it or not, you can restrict when and how third-party collectors reach you. They’re not permitted to phone you at extreme hours and can’t disclose your debt to third parties. So, debt collectors aren’t allowed to contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and they can’t contact you at work if you tell them that’s not cool.
The law also means that, if you are represented by a lawyer, debt collectors must communicate with you through him or her. What they can’t do is discuss your situation with third parties including your family, neighbors, or employer.
Here’s another way the law protects you that surprises some: If you ask them to stop contacting you entirely, they must.
Now, currently, it’s insufficient to tell collectors over the phone how you wish for them to communicate with you. Rather, for the law to have teeth, the FDCPA requires you to state your preference in writing.
Note that when an FDCPA update becomes effective this fall, you will be able to restrict how debt collectors communicate with you through modes and platforms such as email, text message, and social media.
Also, don’t get it twisted: your debt hasn’t disappeared, of course, just because you requested that a creditor cease contact. The collector can still sue you and collect via (embarrassing) wage garnishments.
You’re Protected From Harassing or Abusive Actions
The FDCPA dictates that collectors may not use harassment or abuse to get you to pay the debt. They can’t, for example, curse at you, threaten you or use violence, call you repeatedly to irritate or harass you, call you to get paid, or list your debt for sale to the public.
In fact, abusive or harassing language may tip you off that you have a scam on your hands. Making sure you’re not involved with unscrupulous agents can save you a ton. Check this firm out for legit credit card relief.
Debt Collectors Must Be Honest
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from using misleading, deceptive, or untrue statements to collect from you.
Specifically, collectors cannot misrepresent: the debt total, whether the debt is past the statute of limitations legal ramifications for not paying the obligation, or their professional affiliation.
Do note that while debt collectors must be truthful, they can choose not to answer your queries at all. In such case, consider getting legal aid.
Unfair Practices are Prohibited
The federal law also restricts collectors’ behavior. For instance, they can’t ask for postdated checks for payment, deposit or threaten to deposit a postdated check (which you shouldn’t write), swipe or threaten to swipe property, collect more than what your obligation is, outside of fees and interest. In fact, it’s always a good idea to validate the debt before making a payment.
Validate, They Must
The burden is on the collector to prove that you owe the debt. So, it’s within your rights to request a verification letter, which the agency must send within five days. The letter should state your debt amount and include the identity of the agency seeking payment.
If Your Rights Are Violated
If this happens, you have recourse. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or you can sue the debt collection company. Be sure to retain records of all communications between you and the debt collector.
Hey, you’ve got the FDCPA on your side. Knowing your rights can help you solve your credit woes without undue stress and harassment.