If you are late with your credit card, auto loan, medical or home mortgage payments then you risk having your past due debts placed in the hands of debt collectors. You also run the risk of having a debt collector report your past due credit accounts to a credit reporting agency. Keep reading as the experts at IBS collection compliance explain more.
If you do not know what a debt collector is, it is a person, a company or an attorney acting on behalf of a debt collector whose job it is to collect past due debts. There are many debt collection agencies which operate lawfully. However, there are also many debt collection agencies which are known to use illegal means to collect debts from people. Examples of illegal collection activity include physical and verbal intimidation, repeated phone calls all day and night and calling debtors at their work place.
Dealing with debt collectors can be a nightmare if you do not know about the federal laws which restrict what debt collectors can do and say when attempting to collect past-due debts. There are also federal laws which can help you monitor and dispute credit accounts which have been illegally reported to credit reporting agencies.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restricts illegal debt collection activity. According to the FDCPA, the following are examples of what debt collectors are not allowed to do or say when collecting debts.
Debt collectors cannot call you before 8:00 PM and after 9:00 PM. Debt collectors cannot call you where you work.
Debt collectors cannot call you at your place of work if you inform them you cannot take collections calls where you work.
Debt collectors may not harass you in any way.
Debt collectors cannot contact you directly if you are represented by a lawyer.
A debt collection agency’s employees are allowed to notify you in writing that they will no longer contact you. A debt collection agency representative can inform you if the agency has filed a lawsuit against you. Agency employees might also contact you in writing to let you know you can contest the debt they claim you owe. Debt collectors will also let you know if they intend to report your negative accounts to a credit reporting agency.
Debt collection agencies are required by law to notify you of the original creditor’s name and address, how much you owe, that you can contest the debt and ask for the original creditor’s contact information.
After you receive the requested information, you have 30 days to contest the debt in writing. If you send the letter within 30 days, the debt collection agency is not allowed to contact you about the debt.
While the FDCPA is comprehensive in protecting consumers from unethical debt collection practices, it does not protect against the collection of business debts, collection activities by the original creditor or owner of the debt and the collection of federal and state tax debt.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is another federal policy which provides guidelines on how your debts can be reported to credit reporting agencies. The law also gives consumers a way to legally dispute items which have been illegally reported to credit reporting agencies.
All communication with a debt collector should be in writing. Make sure to date and sign all letters. You should also send all correspondence by registered mail and require a signature of receipt by the recipient.