If you are behind on your debt and receiving calls from creditors, it might seem as if they will stop at nothing to get you to pay. They can be relentless, but there are certain things the law prevents them from ever doing. If a debt collector does any of the following, they are breaking the law and you should contact an attorney immediately:
1. Requests that You Pay Additional Interest, Fees, Expenses, or Anything More than You Owe
Debt collectors are not permitted to misrepresent your debt and cannot not add any fees to the original loan agreement.
2. Threaten Violence
Debt collection is a business and debt collectors must behave professionally. Debt collectors are not allowed to threaten you with violence, nor can they use violent, abusive, or profane language.
3. Call Outside of the Permitted Time Frames or Use Harassing Behavior
The law permits debt collectors to only contact you between 8 am and 9 pm local time. They also cannot call you repeatedly or continuously, or intentionally contact you during times they know are inconvenient.
4. Illegally Share Information with a Third Party about Your Debt
In order for a debt collector to share information about your debt, they must receive written permission from you. Exceptions to this rule include attorneys, the original creditor or creditor’s attorney, a credit reporting agency, your spouse, or your parents if you are a minor.
5. Harass a Third Party for Information about Contacting You
Debt collectors are permitted to contact a third party only one time to collect information about how to contact you.
6. Contact You at Work Once They Know Your Employer Does Not Approve
Once you tell a debt collector your employer does not approve of their calling you, contact at work must stop.
7. Fail to Send Written Debt Validation Notice
Debt collectors must send validation notice in writing within five days of contacting you. The notice must include the original creditor, the amount of the debt, and your right to dispute the debt within 30 days if you believe it is inaccurate. If you request the debt be verified, the collector must cease collection efforts until the matter is resolved. Once you receive verification, collection efforts can begin again.
8. Continue Collection Efforts Following Receipt of a Cease Communication Notice
Once you submit a cease communication notice to a debt collector, collection attempts must stop. They are permitted one additional contact effort via mail to tell you that further efforts to collect are terminated, or that they might or have begun taking other actions (such as filing a lawsuit).
An attorney can help you create a cease communication notice that will stop collection harassment. Keep in mind this will not erase the debt, it just stops the phone calls and letters. And if debts are overwhelming you and you decide bankruptcy is your best option, all debt collection efforts must end immediately. To learn more about dealing with debt collectors, visit FTC.gov
If you would like to know more about what debt collectors are able to do or you are ready to speak to a professional about making a change in your financial life, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696.