If you have ever been contacted by a debt collector, you probably already know that they can be aggressive.   Debt collectors are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  While any contact from a debt collector may appear harassing, the Act actually defines those actions that are legally permissible.  This post addresses some of the restraints regarding communication from debt collectors in regard to legitimate debts. 

When can a debt collector contact you?  Generally, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.  In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock in the morning and before 9 o’clock at night.

What if you are represented by an attorney? Debt collectors may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to the debt and has or can ascertain the attorney’s name and address.  There is an exception if the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or if the attorney consents to direct communication.

Has a debt collector contacted you at work? Debt collectors may not contact the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.

Has a debt collector called your neighbors, friends and/or family?  In most cases, a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than a consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.

What can you do if a debt collector is contacting you about a valid debt? If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except to advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated or to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor.

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