Do you struggle under a growing mountain of credit card debt? With rising interest rates and expected inflation rates for April 2022 to be over the figure of 8.5% posted for March 2022, the spending power of the dollars you earn continues to shrink. It is, therefore, harder to maintain your current debt level, let alone make positive strides and shrink the amount of debt you owe.
Before you know it, if it hasn’t happened already, you will get calls from debt collectors. Anyone who has received such calls knows it’s not so much a call as it is harassment and abuse. Before you find yourself on the receiving end of threats or harassment from a debt collector, you need to know your rights when dealing with debt collectors. And we aim to show you how.
What Is A Debt Collector
If you’re reading this article, you are more than likely familiar with what a debt collector is. However, if you find yourself in a horrible position burdened with credit card debt, then let us explain.
A debt collector, as the name implies, is hired to collect delinquent debt. They can be an internal employee of the original creditor, which is known as a first-party collector. Or they can hire the debt collector from a third party. They usually hire third party debt collectors after the debt goes uncollected by first party collectors for several months.
Third-party companies, also known as collection agencies, specialize in recovering unpaid debt in collection. It is also common for a third-party collection agency to buy and resell debt to another agency.
What Is The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that governs how third-party debt collectors can collect on debts. The Act limits the actions third-party collectors can take in collecting debts, restricts ways in which they can collect on debt, confines who else the debt collector may contact, and constrains the time of day and number of times they can contact you. The FDCPA covers credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other forms of household debt.
What To Do If A Debt Collector Contacts You
First thing to do is to educate yourself on your rights, so you know how to deal with collections. Besides the FDCPA, know your local state laws that protect you against debt collectors. Gather as much knowledge as you can to protect yourself.
Next, do your due diligence and make sure the collector and the amount of debt are legitimate. There are many scams out there related to debt collections. After the first contact by a collection agency, they by law are required to send you a written notice within 5 days with the details of the debt owed, the name of the creditor and notice of 30 days to dispute the debt and what to do.
If you do, in fact, agree to the amount of debt owed, you have three options: agree to pay off the debt in a single payment, agree to a payment plan, or negotiate a lower settlement. Consider the pros and cons of each option to find the best solution for you. Don’t forget any potential short- or long-term credit considerations.
What Are Debt Collectors Allowed To Do
Collection agents may attempt to reach you at home or at the office. They may call after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m., unless the debtor gives permission to call outside of these times. Collectors may send texts, emails, or letters to collect a debt. If a collector does not have contact information for the debtor, they can reach out to relatives, associates and even neighbors to get a phone. However, they may not reveal they are trying to collect on a debt.
The debtor has the right to request a debt collector to stop calling their place of employment, either verbally or in writing. Debtors can also request collectors to stop calling their home phones, but they must do this in writing. When sending anything to a collector, it is best practice to send it by certified mail and pay for the return receipt, so you have confirmation the collector received the request.
Collectors may not threaten or harass you in the attempt to collect the debt. They may not use profanity or obscene language. They may not call you outside of the hours listed above, unless you have given permission to be contacted outside of this time frame. It is also not permissible for them to call you repeatedly. If you requested the collector cease calling you at home or work in writing, or to contact only your attorney, they must do so. Unless a debt collector truly plans on taking a debtor to court, they may not threaten to sue a debtor.
Misleading Claims, Misrepresentation
Debt collectors may not misrepresent who they represent or make misleading claims in attempts to collect the debt. They may not misrepresent the amount, legal status or character of the debt, services rendered, or compensation they may receive for collecting the debt.
Publicize Your Debt
Collectors may not notify you by postcard of your outstanding debt, nor are they allowed to speak to anyone about a person’s debt other than the debtor, the spouse of the debtor or attorney of the debtor. It is also illegal for debt collectors to shame debtors publicly into repaying debt.
Do not allow a debt collector or collection agency to intimidate you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is there to protect you and your loved ones from harassment. Know your rights and stand up for them. Look out for scams and financial frauds and report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
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