What You Need To Know

Illegal Debt Collection

Below is a summary of the kinds of things a debt collector cannot do when attempting to collect a debt from you.

Harassment

Whether you owe the money or not, a debt collector may not harass you!  The following things are considered “harassment” under the FDCPA:

Contacting you at an unusual time or place or time known to be inconvenient to you (especially if it is before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. your time).

Contacting you at your workplace after you told the debt collector not to call you there.

Contacting you after the collector knows you are represented by a lawyer.  using or threatening violence or harm to a person, a loved one or your property, using abusive, obscene or profane language in collecting a debt.

Engaging in abusive telephone use (being insulting or abusive, or calling repeatedly just to harass you).

If you tell a debt collector, in writing, that you do not want to be called anymore, they must stop calling you! This will not eliminate the debt, but it should stop the calls.  If it doesn’t, the collector may have violated the FDCPA.

False Statements

A debt collector is not allowed to use false or misleading statements to collect a debt such as:

Misrepresenting the character, amount or legal status of the debt.

Claiming to be an attorney or law firm if that is not true.

Hiding its true identity or use a false name of its company.

Falsely implying that you committed a crime or may go to jail.

HELPFUL HINT:  Don’t just assume that a debt collector is telling you the truth about what you owe.  They have the burden to prove how they come up with the amount they claim is owed.  So make them prove it!

A debt collector must also tell you in its initial communication that the collector is attempting to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and all future communications from the debt collector must advise you the communication is from a debt collector.

Threats

A debt collector is prohibited from threatening violence or harm to you, a loved one or your property.  A debt collector is also not allowed to threaten to take any action against you (such as sue you) unless the collector is legally allowed to take such action and actually intends to do so.

 

Validating the Debt

Within 5 days of its initial communication with you, a debt collector must send a written notice containing certain information about the debt and your rights to timely obtain verification of the debt.  If you notify a debt collector in writing within 30 days of receiving the “validation notice” that you dispute the debt or that you request proof of the debt, all debt collection must stop until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt and sends it to you.

We have created a Sample Letter for a verification request – please click HERE to view this sample letter!

Whether you owe a debt or not, you have rights when it comes to how a debt collector is hounding you.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors treat you fairly, and prohibits certain methods of debt collection.

Debt collectors who violate the FDCPA may be liable to you for compensation. If a collector has broken the law, you may be able to bring a claim to recover money for you plus have your costs and attorney’s fees paid by the other side.