Debt Collectors Must Play by the Rules

Debt collection harassment affects millions of Americans. Did you know that debt collectors have to follow certain laws when they contact you, no matter how much debt you might have?

What is the FDCPA?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the main federal law that governs debt collection practices. This law prohibits debt collection companies or law firms from using abusive, harassing, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debt from consumers.

The law covers debt from personal, family, and household debt, including money owed on a personal credit card account, a medical or utility bill, or a loan. Commercial debts are not covered under this law.

Whether a debt is owed or not, collectors are not allowed to intimidate, harass, threaten, or abuse you. You may be able to sue the collector for violations of the FDCPA at no cost.

When Can Collectors Contact Me?

Collectors can contact you by phone between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless you inform the collector that they are permitted to contact you outside those hours. For example, some people work shifts that would make it inconvenient to receive calls during those hours. You can request that the collector contact you during certain hours. It is important to document collection calls with date, time of day, name of collector, caller ID, and details of a phone conversation or message.

Collectors may call you at work if you give them permission. If your employer does not permit you to have personal calls at work, you can inform the collector to stop calling during work hours.

Can the Collector Contact Me if I’m Represented by an Attorney?

If you receive collection calls or letters after engaging an attorney to assist with your debts, you should inform the collector by sending a letter with your attorney’s name and contact information. Afterwards, the collector is not permitted to contact you. If you continue to receive collection calls or letters, you should contact a consumer protection attorney to discuss whether the collector has violated your rights.

Can the Collector Contact Someone Else About My Debt?

Collectors are not allowed to contact anyone other than yourself about your debt, unless it is to get contact information. Many times we hear that relatives, neighbors, co-workers, or friends have been contacted by debt collectors who have shared collection details. In these situations, it is very important to have the contact documented in a Third Party Statement letter. The receiver of the call should note date, time of day, name of collector and agency, caller ID, and details of the conversation or message.