What are your rights regarding Debt Collectors?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers against many debt collection practices that were meant to annoy, harass or oppress. Congress found that there was a huge amount of evidence supporting the fact that many debt collectors were using tactics that were unfair in their attempts to get debts collected. These practices were contributing to a large number of personal bankruptcies, marital instability, and a huge amount of job loss and too many invasions of individual privacy.

The act is made up of several different parts. You can download the entire document in PDF format from the www.ftc.gov website. I recommend that you obtain and read this document to help you understand your rights and the rights that debt collectors have to follow.

Debt collection companies can speak with individuals or others concerning locating the consumer. This includes speaking with or locating their employer. But they cannot speak about the debt in question during their attempt to locate the consumer in question.

Debt collectors are not allowed to communicate with the consumer at any unusual time or place. If you give the debt collector permission to contact outside of the limitations, they can and do call outside of the time guidelines. Currently the guidelines are after 8am and before 9pm in the time zone that the consumer resides.

The Debt collector is not allowed to contact the consumer at their place of employment once the collector knows or has reason to know that the employer prohibits that type of communication at work.

The debt collector is not allowed without prior consent to contact any third parties unless given permission by a court or by the consumer (or the consumer’s representative).

The consumer has the right to notify the debt collection agency that they want them to cease communications. This request must be in writing and will stop future communication. The Debt Collection Agency shall not communicate further with the consumer except to notify the consumer that they are ceasing communication or to notify the consumer that they might invoke other specified remedies such as an attempt to obtain a judgment against the consumer.

A debt collector may not engage in any conduct that is meant to harass, oppress or abuse any person in connection with the collection of the debt.  They are not allowed to use or threat to use violence or other criminal means that could harm the actual person, reputation or property of any person. They can not use any obscene or profane language that could abuse the consumer either verbal or written. They are not allowed to publish any list of consumers except to a consumer reporting agency (Credit Bureau). They are not allowed to harass, annoy, or abuse any person by causing a telephone to ring and ring or to continually try to engage a conversation with the consumer.

Debt collectors are not allowed to give false representation of themselves or any false representation of the debt and amount of the debt. The debt collector may not imply that they are an attorney or that their communication is from an attorney.

So if you have a debt collector call, don’t be afraid. Answer them truthfully and honestly as this will only help you getting the problem resolved. Don’t be intimidated because you have rights and they are just doing a job. Review the claim and dispute anything that you don’t agree with. The debt collector is required by law to validate any claims and to try and attempt collection of that debt.

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