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Dealing with Debt Collectors
Unpaid bills and debt piling up against consumers have led to more debt collectors using harassing and illegal practices. Dealing with debt collectors can be difficult and frustrating, however, consumers have many rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Creditors are not allowed to harass or make threats, lie, call repeatedly, or before 8 am or after 9 pm, discuss consumers’ accounts with unauthorized parties, or misrepresent the amount of debt. Consumers have the right to request that the debt collector cease contact with them. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows consumers to sue debt collectors who violate the act for actual damages, up to $1,000 in statutory damages, and attorney’s fees.
If you are suffering from a debt collectors dispute, contact us today to get started!
How to Recognize and Stop Harassing Debt Collectors
Despite these restrictions, many debt collectors will try to get around these rules in order to collect from consumers. There are several ways consumers can take advantage of their rights and prevent debt collection abuse. Consumers should follow these tips:
- The law requires an agency to provide a validation notice within five days of contacting the consumer. If you get such a notice, ask for validation.
- Keep records of all written correspondence, phone calls and messages: write down the date and time of every call, noting the agency name, collector’s name, debt amount and summary of the conversation.
- Send correspondence to the collection agency through fax, certified or overnight mail: if not, they may deny receiving it.
- Do not ignore lawsuits against you. You may have wages or bank accounts garnished if they get a judgment against you. Consult a consumer attorney to see if you have any good defenses or claims against the company that is suing you, and/or their attorney.
- Take action if you encounter abusive collection practices. Consult a consumer attorney to see if you can sue them to recover damages and stop the abusive practices.
- Consumers should also be aware of fraudulent debt collectors trying to get financial information such as consumers’ social security number and bank and credit card account information. Common red flags for false debt collectors are refusing to name their company or demanding that debt must be paid in cash or money transfer. Do not give sensitive personal and financial information out over the phone, especially if you did not initiate the phone call.
If consumers do not believe they owe the debt, they should refuse to pay the debt, and dispute the debt in writing. If identity theft is suspected, they should consult the FTC’s web site for information on how to proceed. All consumers contacted by a debt collector they suspect may be fraudulent should report it immediately to the FTC, and local law enforcement agencies.
Consumers should know their rights when dealing with debt collection agencies. If you are being harassed by debt collectors, there are ways you can fight back and stand up for your rights. Contact an experienced consumer rights attorney to discuss your options today.