DEBT COLLECTION BASICS
Posted on: Jun. 23, 2017 in Debt

Having a debt go into collections can be a frustrating situation. There may be times when you’d pay it back if you could, but money is too tight. Perhaps you didn’t even know the debt was outstanding, or you did pay and it wasn’t recorded correctly. And then there are situations where you don’t believe you owe the money at all and the charge is being disputed. Regardless, when collection agents start contacting you, it can get scary.

It’s important to know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the United States’ consumer protection agency which helps to protect consumers against unfair trade practices, among other things. They are also responsible for enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA says that debt collectors cannot use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices while trying to collect personal, family, or household debts from you. The FDCPA doesn’t cover business debts.

Here are a few rules debt collectors must follow when contacting you:

  • They may not contact you before 8 AM or after 9 PM, unless you tell them they can.
  • They may not call you at work if you tell them you’re not allowed to receive calls there
  • They may not continue to contact you if you tell them in writing to stop, unless it is to tell you they will not contact you again or that they are taking action against you, such as filing a lawsuit.
  • They may not speak to anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney about your debt.
  • If you don’t have an attorney, they may contact others in an attempt to gain your phone number, your address, or where you work.
  • Once a debt collector contacts you, they must send you a validation notice, which is a written document indicating how much you owe, the name of the creditor who believes you owe this money, and steps you can take if you don’t think you owe the money. This must be sent to you within five days of the initial contact.
  • If you don’t believe you owe the money, you can send a letter to the debt collector who must then stop contacting you unless it is to provide verification of the debt. You must send that letter within 30 days after you receive the validation letter.

These are some of the basics, but the FDCPA provides even more regulations to protect consumers. The FTC offers a wealth of information on their website.

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