Struggling to Pay Debt? You Have Rights

by Miranda Marquit · 1 comment

One of the hardest situations that many consumers face is trying to deal with debt collection. Not only is having the debt stressful, but it can be even more stressful when you aren’t able to repay the debt, or if the debt is the result of a financial catastrophe, such as a lost job or a medical condition. Adding to the stress of having the debt might be the phone calls from debt collection agencies and others. While you might feel hopeless in these situations, the good news is that you have hope. You do have rights, and it’s a good idea to know them.

Phone Calls to People You Know

Sometimes, when you aren’t answering the phone or the mail, a debt collector might call your relatives, work, and friends. First of all, there was a time when debt collectors would tell people you know about your debt, embarrassing you and possibly hurting your standing in your community. Now, though, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collectors can’t tell others about your debt. However, they can still call and ask how to get a hold of you, without mentioning the debt.

When it comes to work, you can tell debt collectors not to call you at that location. Additionally, it’s possible to ask them to stop contacting you by phone. Send a request in writing, and they are supposed to contact you via mail. You can even ask them to stop contacting you through the mail. When you do that, they can only send you information related to a legal proceeding (if that’s what they decide to do).

While it’s hard to think straight when you have all these calls and letters coming, you still have rights. The debt collectors shouldn’t be telling others about your debt, and they shouldn’t keep calling your workplace after you tell them to stop.

Threats and Demeaning Language

The FDCPA also has regulations against what debt collectors can say to you. First of all, watch out for those who try to intimidate you by saying that you could be arrested. You can’t be arrested for failing to pay a debt, and it’s against the law for collectors to make those threats. Other threats against you, as well as demeaning language, are also forbidden by law. Debt collectors also can’t lie and pose as someone else (such as an attorney or credit counselor) to convince you to pay the debt or share information.

If you are being treated rudely by a debt collector — and this includes calls outside the mandated times of between 8 am and 9 pm local. So if you are getting calls early in the morning or late at night, someone is violating the FDCPA.

When you are subject to unfair practices, you can report the debt collection agency. Keep track of when these abuses occur, and what happens. Then, you can hire an attorney and sue in your own turn, or report to the right federal authorities. If you want more information about your rights when it comes to debt collection, you can visit the FTC web site.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike February 10, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Maybe I am oversimplifying this but why do people even answer the phone? My iPhone lets me see the number calling. If it says anything like “No Caller ID” or some 800 number I let it go to voice mail. If they actually leave a voice mail you simply do a mass delete…… Why even talk to them?

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