rights do you have with a debt collector?
Can a debt
collector contact me any time or place?
No, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places such
as before 8 am or after 9 pm unless you agree to it. And collectors may
not contact you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing) that you’re not
allowed to get calls there.
Can I stop a collector from contacting me? If a
collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once
to see if you can resolve the matter – even if you don’t think you owe the
debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the collector is contacting you
by mistake. If you decide after contacting the debt collector that you don’t
want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector – in writing – to
stop contacting you. Here’s how to do that: Make a copy of your letter.
Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll
be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector receives
your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector
can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact or to let you know
that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a
lawsuit. Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not
get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt
collector still can sue you to collect the debt.
Can a debt
collector contact anyone else about my debt? If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the
debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you don’t have an
attorney, a collector may contact other people – but only to find out your
address, your home phone number, and where you work. Collectors usually are
prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain
this location information about you, a debt collector generally is not
permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your
are off limits for debt collectors?
Harassment – Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or
any third parties they contact. For example, they may not: Use
threats of violence or harm, publish names who refuse to pay their debts, use
obscene or profane language, or repeatedly use the phone to annoy
someone. False statements – Debt collectors may not lie when they
are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not: falsely
claim that they are attorneys or government representatives, falsely claim that
you have committed a crime, falsely represent that they operate or work for a
credit reporting company, misrepresent the amount you owe, indicate that papers
they send you are legal forms if they aren’t, indicate that papers they send to
you aren’t legal forms if they are. Debt collectors are prohibited
from saying that: you will be arrested if you don’t pay, they’ll
seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are
permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so, or legal action will
be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to
take the action. Unfair practices – Debt collectors may not engage
in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they
may not: try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the
amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt or your state law allows
the charge, deposit a post-dated check early, take or threaten to take your
property unless it can be done legally, or contact you by postcard.