Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act can help you defend yourself against unscrupulous credit card companies and the collection agencies they employ to try and recover lost monies. It’s common for people to fall on hard times and start to feel the “squeeze” from credit card companies when you begin to fall behind payments. It is also very common for you to be unfairly treated and have your credit report show false information which can damage your credit score and ability to get loans.
One of the best things you can do in these situations is understand your rights and know the law.
Here is a brief overview of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Contacting You – A debt collector may not contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you agree to it. What about work? Nope. They can’t contact you there if you tell them they are not allowed to.
Contacting Other People: If you have hired a lawyer to help you with your debt issues, then debt collectors can only contact your lawyer. They can no longer contact you directly. However, if you do not have a lawyer, then they can try and contact other people to find out how to contact you. That’s it. They cannot discuss anything related to your debt issues outside of simply trying to find a way to contact you.
Prohibited Practices – The Act bans several practices regularly employed by debt collectors, which include abuse, threats, violence and harassment (the big one!). As an example of this, debt collectors cannot repeatedly use the phone to harass you or use obscene language. There are some large debt collection companies like First Source Advantage and RJM Acquisitions that have been known for repeatedly and consistently calling people about debt issues. Additionally, they cannot publish any information (including your name) that pertains to any debt matters.
One last thing to note is that a debt collector cannot give you false information or lie to you in any manner.
Stop Contacting You – It is recommended that you talk to any debt collector at least one time in order to see if you can resolve the issue. Once you have done this, you can then ask them to stop calling you. The FTC suggests that the best way to do this is through writing. They suggest that you make several copies of the letter (keep some for your records), send the letter by certified mail, and to make sure that the letter was received, pay for the return receipt.
Written Notice Before Contact – By law, any debt collector must send you a written notice of validation within five days of first contacting you. This written notice has to contain the name of the original creditor and how much it is believed that you owe them.
If you have already sent a written notice to a debt collector it does not mean you are not obligated to pay any debt. Also, just because you see certain things on your credit report, it does not mean you are obligated to pay them. It is a good practice to review your credit report to make sure you understand everything that is on it.