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Debt Collection Abuse

Debt Collection Abuse

Debt Collection Abuse

Debt collectors must treat you with truth, fairness, dignity, and respect. Debt collectors are regulated by numerous state and federal laws in their debt collection activities. That's where our firm can help. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") provides you with significant consumer rights when dealing with debt collectors. This article will briefly outline some of the important consumer rights afforded to you under the FDCPA. Some states also have their own laws, which are similar to the FDCPA.

The Basics

Remember that it is legal for someone to attempt to collect a debt from you that you owe; however, certain rules must be followed. The FDCPA covers consumers, debt collectors, and certain kinds of debts.

A consumer simply means any person who owes a debt. It also includes individuals who are told they owe a debt (even if they do not actually owe such debt or do not even recognize it).

A debt collector is anyone who regularly collects defaulted debts owed to others. This includes attorneys who collect debts (such as by suing consumers). This does not include whoever you originally borrowed money from.

A covered debt includes any alleged debt that is primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. It does not include all debt; for example, business debts are not covered under the FDCPA.

How Debt Collection Work?

Debt collection often begins with a debt collector contacting you by phone or by mail stating that you owe a debt and that they are trying to collect on it. Oftentimes, consumers do not recognize the company that has contacted them, even if they recognize the underlying debt. This is because many debt collectors buy the right to collect on a debt that originated somewhere else and then try to collect the debt.

Some debt collectors may only call or mail you letters. If you receive only a telephone call, do not pay any money unless you also receive a letter. If you receive a letter, you can request that the debt collector validate the debt. You must dispute the debt or seek verification of the debt within 30 days.

Others may file a lawsuit against you to obtain a court order that you must pay the debt. If you are sued, it is important to remember that you can contest the debt in Court as well as raise your own claims against the debt collector. It is highly recommended that you contact an attorney if and when you find out that you are being sued.

If the debt collector prevails in a lawsuit against you, it may ask the Court to garnish your wages or seize assets you own to pay off the amount in the judgment.

Your Rights

The FDCPA provides consumers with a variety of protections through the debt collection process.

When you are first contacted by a debt collector, it must

  • Identify itself and explain that it is contacting you to collect a debt
  • Inform you of your rights under the FDCPA
  • Provide you a written letter within 5 days of first contacting you that explains the debt and your rights under the FDCPA

When a debt collector first contacts you, you have the right to

  • Request validation of the debt within 30 days of when you were first contacted (sample letter here)
  • Dispute the debt within 30 days of when you were first contacted. Once you dispute this, you then have the right not to be contacted by the debt collector until it verifies details of the debt. (sample letter here)

While a debt collector contacts you, it must

  • Properly identity itself
  • Avoid using abusive or harassing language
  • Avoid disclosing any details about the debt collection to third parties, such as your friends, family, and employer
  • Provide accurate information about the debt (such as the amount, status, and nature of the debt)
  • Not contact you by postcard

When a debt collector contacts you, you have the right to

  • Request it to stop contacting you (sample letter here)
  • Request it to only contact you at certain times
  • Request it only contact in certain ways, such as only by mail to your home (sample letter here)

You may have other rights as well, depending on what type of debt is involved, such as mortgage debt, an auto loan, or student loans. We are happy to discuss such additional protections with you; just complete our contact form.

What to do if you believe your rights have been violated by a debt collector

The deck is stacked against consumers with sophisticated debt collection tactics. As a consumer, you should not hesitate to shield yourself from these sharp practices and exercise your rights under the FDCPA. Our law firm has the experience, resources, and ability to zealously represent you in your FDCPA action against any debt collector. We file federal civil lawsuits against debt collectors who violate any state or federal law. The FDCPA prohibits any collection efforts which violate any law. That means that, amongst other things, a collector must tell the truth, be respectful to you, and cease communicating with you when you have a lawyer.

It is important to speak to an attorney quickly as claims that you have against a debt collector may expire as soon as one year after the violation occurred.

It is also a good idea to keep a history of every time the debt collector contacted you. Save all emails, letters, and voicemails you’ve received. Also, be sure to save your phone records that show when the debt collector contacted you. Keep notes on how the debt collector’s actions have impacted you and those around you. This will serve as important evidence in your case.

We are here to help you and are happy to discuss your situation with you further. Please fill out our contact form, and someone from our office will reach out to you.

Additional Resources

Below are some additional resources for how to manage debt: