A personal financial crisis can be one of the most difficult times in your life. Those who have gone through it will tell you that each day seems to be more difficult than the last. Each dollar spent on necessities feels like another dollar further from getting back to even. Making this time in your life worse is the likely communication you’ll have with debt collectors. Financial trouble can lead to a host of other problems in your life.
Did you know that recent evidence has linked unfair and abusive debt collection to a rise in personal bankruptcies, marital instability, job loss, and invasion of privacy? There is no easy way out of debt or dealing with collection agencies that may be putting additional strain on your life. However, there are laws governing debt collectors by virtue of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commision. The FDCPA’s laws can be grouped into subsets based on the violation which we aid in understanding your rights as a consumer. Read on to find out what your rights are.
Laws Involved with Location Acquisition
A debt collector when speaking to anyone other than the consumer for the purposes of locating that consumer shall:
1. Identify him or herself, state that he is confirming or correcting info on the consumer, and only state his or her employer if expressly requested
2. Not state that the consumer owes a debt
3. Speak to someone other than the consumer in debt more than once
4. Communicate by post card or use a symbol on any envelope mailed that indicates collector is in debt collection business.
Laws Involved with When a Debt Collector Can Speak with You
A debt collector may not speak to you under these conditions:
1. At a time known to be inconvenient to the consumer or outside the hours of 8am and 9pm
2. If the debt collector is aware the consumer is being represented by an attorney
3. At your place of employment if they know your employer prohibits such communication
Laws Involved with How a Debt Collector Speaks to You
A debt collector may not engage in conduct intended to harass or abuse. Such communication is illegal and includes:
1. The use of obscene or profane language
2. The use or threat of violence or other criminal means to harm the consumer, their property, or their reputation
3. Causing a telephone to ring incessantly with the intent to annoy
4. Threatening the publication of a list of consumers who refuse to pay a debt except to a consumer reporting agency
5. Threatening the advertisement for sale of debt to coerce payment
6. False or misleading information in relation to identity or profession (i.e. law enforcement or attorney)
These are only the more common laws violated by debt collectors and is not a complete list of consumer protections under the FDCPA. For a complete list, you can visit the Federal Trade Commission site or consult with an attorney. If you feel you are the victim of abuse or harassment at the hands of a debt collector and wish communication to cease, pay special attention to laws governing when debt collectors may speak with you. If the agency is aware you are being represented by an attorney they may not communicate with you on the matter. This is an important step in avoiding the personal troubles that accompany abusive and illegal debt collection practices.
This article was written by Brian Levesque, a professional writer for Scott D. Owens – a debt collection attorney based in Florida.