Debt collectors assume that you won’t stand up for your legal rights, or that you do not know them. However, simply being contacted, or even sued, by a debt collector for a credit card or other debt does not mean that your hands are tied. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, defines what debt collectors must, and must not, do while attempting to collect on a debt. If you are the victim of any illegal debt collection practices, than a Boston debt collection attorney can help you seek the justice you deserve.
Who Can a Debt Collector Contact?
Debts are private affairs, and a debt collector in most states is not permitted to allow third parties to know that you owe a debt. This means that in most cases, third-party contact is not allowed, with a few exceptions. A debt collector is allowed to reach out to your debt collection attorney if they know you have retained one, for instance. In fact, if a collector is informed that you have legal representation, they must speak exclusively to the debt collection attorney unless given express permission to speak to you directly, or if the attorney is not responsive.
Debt collectors are allowed to contact your spouse or co-debtors, and your parents if you are a minor under the FDCPA, but these contacts must stop if requested in a letter. One other exception is that a debt collector may contact a third party for the purpose of finding your whereabouts or new contact information. However, they may not identify their employer (unless they are asked) and cannot state to a third party that you owe a debt.
In the mail, debt collectors are not allowed to communicate by postcard, and they cannot use language or symbols on the outside of any mail piece indicating an attempt at debt collection in most states – including business names, logos, or letterhead which may identify the mail piece as a debt collection attempt. Any debt collector who violates your privacy is in violation of the FDCPA.
How Can a Debt Collector Contact Me?
In an initial communication with you, once verifying that they are speaking with you, they must inform you that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt and that any information gained during the communication will be used to collect on that debt. Debt collectors are not permitted to contact you at inconvenient or unusual times, so calls made before 8am and after 9pm are in violation of the FDCPA. For those who work nights, however, a 1pm call may be inconvenient, so this definition can vary.
A debt collector is not allowed to contact you directly if the collection agency knows, or should have known, that you have retained a debt collection attorney, and a collector cannot contact you at work unless you allow it.
Are You Being Harassed by a Debt Collector?
Collection agencies are not allowed to pursue methods which abuse, oppress, or harass debtors. This includes threats of violence or harm against you, another person, or to anyone’s reputation or property. Collectors are not permitted to use abusive or obscene language, or to publish (or threaten to publish) your name as a debtor in default.
Debt collectors may not call you repeatedly, and they may not contact you at all without identifying themselves as a debt collector. They may not threaten to have you arrested or to take your property. You absolutely do not have to be harassed. You may hang up on a debt collector, and you may request (in writing) to not be contacted anymore – a request they must abide by. Now, a no-contact request, when honored, does not imply that you do not owe the debt if it is valid – but it can add a measure of peace to your life.
The best way to deal with debt collection practices that are “enthusiastic,” let’s call them, is to retain the services of an experienced debt collection attorney.
Debt Collectors, Must Be Clear, Forthright, and Honest
A collection agency is not allowed to be unfair, dishonest, or misleading. They may not add additional fees or charges not authorized by the initial debt agreement, for instance, and they may not deposit any postdated check prior to the date that is clearly labeled. They may not use threats against you or anyone else in order to leverage payment from you. If you have been in contact with a collection agency who is in violation of any part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, contact Rights Protection Law Group today at (844) 574-4487 and assert your legal rights.