Debt Collectors are Supposed to Treat You Fairly

Debt Collectors are Supposed to Treat You Fairly

 

If you fall behind in repaying creditors, you may be contacted by a debt collector. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors have a legal responsibility to treat you fairly.

 

Even if debt collectors treat you unfairly, of course, you are still required to pay any legitimate debt. And like any legal proceeding, it can be a hassle to put in motion the legal steps necessary to actually obtain legal relief from a debt collector who is harassing you in the first place. For these reasons and others, you may prefer to simply “kill two birds with one stone”: begin a program of responsible Debt Settlement or Consumer Credit Counseling in order to begin to start taking action to lower your debt payments and help keep creditors from harassing you. ReallyGreatRate provides complete information on all the Debt Settlement options available to you, and offers a free consultation to discuss which option would work best for you.

 

The more knowledge you have the better. It is in this spirit that we want to inform you of some of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

 

How is term “debt collector” defined? In other words, who does the Act actually deal with?

 

Any person who regularly collects debts owed to others is how the Act defines “debt collector.” Even an attorney who contacts you, if he collects debts on a regular basis, is a debt collector.

 

Which of my debts are covered under the Act?

 

Personal, family, and household debts, are covered under the Act. Money you owe for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts are all covered.

 

So just how exactly is a collector allowed to contact me?

 

A collector is allowed to contact you in a variety of ways. It can be in person as well as by mail, by telephone, telegram, or by fax. A debt collector, however, may not contact you at inconvenient times or places. This would include before the hour of 8 a.m., or after 9 p.m. in the evening. That is – unless you agree. Also: debt collectors are not supposed to contact you at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves of such contacts.

 

Can I actually stop a debt collector from contacting me unfairly?

 

If you write a letter to the collector telling the collector to stop contacting you unfairly, the collector is supposed to stop. After that the collector is supposed to stop contacting you. That is: except to say there will be no further contact. Or, to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
Remember, however: sending such a letter to a collector does not make any legitimate debt go away! You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.

 

What must the debt collector tell you about the debt?

 

The collector must, within five days of your first being contacted, send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe. The name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money must also be specified.

 

May a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt?

 

If you have an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney and not you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such third parties more than once.
The collector, under most circumstances, is prohibited from informing anyone – other than you or your attorney – that you owe money.

 

Harassment

 

Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.
Debt collectors may not: use threats of violence or harm, publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau), use obscene or profane language, or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

 

May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?

 

A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money.
A debt collector CAN renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.

 

What false statements must a debt collector refrain from making?

 

Debt collectors may not: use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt, falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives, falsely imply that you have committed a crime, falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau, lie about the amount of debt owed, say that papers being sent to you are legal forms if, in fact, they are not, claim that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt, state that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages (unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so), state that actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, (when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action), give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau, send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not, or use a false name.

 

What other unfair practices must a debt collector refrain from engaging in?

 

Debt collectors may not: collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge, deposit a post-dated check prematurely, use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams, take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally, or contact you by postcard.

 

What control do you have over payment of debts?

 

If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.

 

What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?

 

You do have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. Of course, you must go through proper legal channels to initiate the legal action. And if you lose, you will be incurring legal costs on top of any debt you legitimately owe.

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