The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is the nation's consumer protection agency, it is charged and enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which limits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you, this includes harassment and intimidation
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them. It does not cover debt collection by the owner of the debt. In other words, if a company handles its own debt collection, it is exempt from most of this ACT, but do use the FDCPA as a guideline.
The Act is designed to protect individual consumers; The Act covers personal, family, and household debts, including money you owe on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical bill, and your mortgage. The FDCPA doesn't cover debts you incurred to run a business.
A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night, unless you agree to it. And collectors may not contact you at work if they're told that you are not allowed to get calls there. If you are getting these types of calls, the first thing you should say is, please do not call me early in the morning or late in the evening. Give them a time frame and specify that you cannot receive personal calls at work. Ask for the callers ID or Badge and record the information and your comments.
It is always best to speak with the collector, if you owe the debt it is not just going to go away, most times you can work something out or reach an understanding, you can tell the caller that you will not have the money until the end of the month and ask them not to call back until then. Most times they will leave you alone.
In general debt collectors are not allowed to contact anyone else in regards to your debt, but if they cannot contact you, they are allowed to contact others, to try to secure a phone number or verify an address.
If you are in communication with the debt collector they are not allowed to contact third parties. This is another reason it is a good idea to have at least one phone conversation with them.
A debt collector cannot contact your bank or your employer and they cannot access your bank account or your paycheck. This can only be done through the courts. This means that they can file a court case against you, and if you do not defend yourself or show up, they can issue a judgment and an order to attach your bank account or garnish your wages. But only the court can do this.
Debt collectors cannot lie to you, harass you, or try to intimidate you.
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Barry Norman is a contributor to and blogger at firstcredit.net. For over ten years FirstCredit.net has provided consumers free information helping them make sense of credit cards and the financial industry. Whether you are a longtime cardholder or looking for your first credit card, FirstCredit.net can help you make informed decisions.
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