Debt collectors are supposed to adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations when it comes to collecting a debt from you. Unfortunately, unless they are held to those standards by consumers, some tend to push the boundaries and try to get away with more than the law allows. Many are able to do so, too, because they are harassing people who know they are overdue on bills and lack an understanding of their power in the situation. Just because you are behind on debts doesn’t mean you should be a victim of a lawbreaking debt collector!
What are some of the threats you should be on alert for when it comes to debt collection actions?
• Debt collectors threatening lawsuits. If you are threatened with a lawsuit by a debt collector, it’s a relatively empty threat. Though you can be sued in relation to a debt, the debt collection company is not the one filing a lawsuit. They are using legal action as a scare tactic.
• Debt collectors threatening arrest. Debts are civil legal matters, which means that only in very rare and very unusual circumstances would anyone ever find themselves under arrest in relation to a debt. If a debt collector threatens to have you arrested, they are trying to scare you and are hoping you are ignorant to the law.
• Debt collectors threatening to take your property. Unless a debt is directly related to that property, debt collectors can’t take it. So if a collector threatens to take your home because of an unpaid credit card bill – an unsecured debt – he or she is bluffing.
• Debt collectors threatening to garnish your wages. It is possible for a credit card company to go through the process of getting your wages garnished, but it requires the company receive a judgement from the courts – and it’s not actually a debt collector taking legal action. It’s expensive to pursue a lawsuit and many credit card companies just don’t bother.
To learn more about the process of wage garnishment, US Department of Labor.
Handling Debt Collection Calls
So if you are contacted by a debt collector what should you do? If the debt is accurate and you have the money to pay it in full, contact the original lending company and offer to do so. Then take the actions necessary to ensure the debt is marked paid in full on your credit report. It’s a good idea to request something in writing from the original lender, too, which you might receive automatically. If a debt collector then proceeds to contact you regarding the debt, you can ignore the threats, knowing the debt is paid in full and you have proof.
Even if you cannot pay the debt and you are being harassed by a debt collector, you have a right to take legal action. You are responsible for the debt, but you are not obligated to be the victim of harassment.
For more information or to speak with someone about whether or not a debt collector is crossing the line with you, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696.