Persistent debt collection calls can be hard to manage. Pestering debt collectors can be even more difficult to handle. They lead to stressful financial situations and destroy your mental peace.
The good news? The federal law is on your side. You’re protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This law gives special rights to you for avoiding debt collection harassment. This law specifies the following things:
- Types of debts that are covered by the law
- Steps debt collectors can take or can’t take
- Your rights as a debtor
What is FDCPA?
This is a federal law that was enacted in 1978 to protect consumers from the abusive debt collection practices. It governs the debt collection practices and explains what collectors can do or can’t do.
What are my rights under the FDCPA?
Here are a few rights that the FDCPA gives you to deal with the abusive debt collection practices.
1. You can control the mode of communication
You can control the way debt collectors communicate with you. You can put a restriction on when and how debt collectors get in touch with you. They can’t call you before 8 a.m or after 9 p.m. They can’t disturb you at work if you have asked them not to do so. If you have hired a debt attorney, then collection agencies should contact him for settling credit card debts. The debt collectors are also forbidden from discussing your debt problems with your employers, family members, and neighbors.
If you don’t want to communicate with debt collectors at all, you’re also allowed to do it. You can send a Cease and Desist letter via certified mail in that case.
2. You can expect nothing but truthful statements
Collectors can’t make false or deceptive statements for collecting a debt. They can’t lie about the total amount you owe, the statute of limitations, legal consequences, etc. They can’t also lie about their identity. They can’t act as another company or a professional. For instance, they can’t identify themselves as a state attorney general or a credit reporting agency representative.
If you ask questions to debt collectors, they should give proper replies. They can’t deliver misleading statements. That is against the law.
3. You can ask collectors to validate the debt
You have the right to ask the debt collection agency validate the debt before paying a penny to them. You can send the validation letter to the collection agency via certified mail and ask them to prove the legitimacy of the debt. Debt collectors should give a reply explaining how much you owe and the creditor’s name. They should also issue a statement that if you dispute the account in writing within 30 days, then they will verify it by mail. The collector is also required to disclose the details of the original creditor within 30 days of the initial contact.
4. You don’t have to endure abusive behavior
Some debt collectors indulge in violent or abusive practices to collect debts. They can’t do that legally. The law forbids you from tolerating any kind of abusive behavior.
Debt collectors can’t abuse you verbally or physically. They can’t threaten you or harass you. They can threaten to foreclose your property or send you to the jail. They can’t indulge in violent activities. They can’t collect money without revealing their true identity.
5. You can file a lawsuit if they violate laws
CFPB receives more than 88,000 complaints from consumers since 2016. Many debt collection agencies violate the rules every year. If you find that a debt collector has violated any law, then you can file a complaint against him at the FTC or you can even sue the collection agency. You can also report the matter to the State Attorney General or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Make sure you check the state collection laws. Some debt collectors follow the federal laws but violate the state collection laws. If you don’t have any knowledge about the state laws, then contact the nearest state attorney general’s office. He can explain the additional local rights you have.
Several law firms offer legal services to consumers. They help consumers to file a lawsuit against the abusive debt collectors and win the cases. Consumers can win as much as $1000 as compensation from the debt collectors.
You can file a lawsuit on your own for teaching a lesson to debt collectors. But law firms have a panel of experienced debt attorneys. They can help you handle everything in a legal way.
Don’t get intimidated by debt collectors. There are lots of things you can do when they violate the laws. The FTC and the CFPB are on your side. If you face too many problems, call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit the official website of the FTC.