8 Things You Should Know About Debt Collectors
- They cannot harass or intimidate you
Debt collectors have to follow the rules. There are laws in place to protect people from abusive behavior of debt collection agencies. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that sets out the rules that debt collectors must follow. If a company harasses you with repetitive calls, threatens you, is abusive or obscene, claims to be the police or other law enforcement agents, or falsely claims to be an attorney or process service agent, they are violating these rules.
- They can only call during certain times of day. They cannot disclose your debt to anyone.
The debt collector may also be breaking the rules if they call at odd hours, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. For example, if they call you every day at 7 a.m., they are harassing you with repetitive phone calls at inappropriate times. They also cannot call your workplace if you have told them not to, and they cannot tell other people about your debt. If they call your boss or your family and tell them you owe money, they are breaking the law.
- You Should Keep a Log of Conversations with Debt Collectors
It is important to keep a log of calls and conversations you have with a debt collector. This information can be useful if you need to report them for breaking the law. You can also use this information to take legal action against a debt collector for damages.
- Your Debt may be Time Barred
The debt collector may be unable to sue you if your debt is past the time limit for filing a law suit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. The time limit starts after the first missed payment.
- The Debt Collectors may be Fake
There are multiple scam-artists operating as fake debt collectors. These people can be extremely convincing and may even have your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission has tips for spotting fake debt collectors:
You don’t recognize the debt they are calling about
- The caller refuses to give you their contact information
- You are asked for sensitive or financial information like bank account numbers
- The caller is aggressive and pressuring you; for example, threatening to arrest you or report you to law enforcement.
- Your Credit Report May Still Show the Debt after Payment
Debt Collection will remain on credit reports for seven years after the first missed payment. Even if they are paid, they can show up as a debt that has been in collections but paid in full. If you have negotiated a lower settlement than the original debt, your credit report may list the debt as a partial settlement. The remaining balance might even be sold to another debt collector. It is important to be very careful when making a settlement with a collector. It is important to be sure that the debt will be considered paid-in-full and to get the agreement in writing.
- Showing up to Court if you are Sued is Important
If you are sued for a debt and you do not show up to court, a judge may enter a default judgment against you. This can make fighting your debt much more complicated. If you are being sued, contacting an experienced attorney is advisable and likely to improve your outcome.
- You can Report the Debt Collector and possibly get Financial Damages
If a debt collector breaks the law, you can file a complaint with the FTC or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can also bring a private action against the debt collector. If you are the victim of debt collector harassment and need the help of an experienced attorney, contact Lanna Martin Kilgore. Ms. Kilgore serves clients throughout Warren County and beyond and has the experience to help you if you are being harassed by debt collectors