The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has set guidelines requiring that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection. However, the law does not erase any legitimate debt you owe.
Personal, family, and household debts are included under the Act. This includes payments owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for credit card accounts.
A debt collector is an agent who regularly collects debts on behalf of others. Attorneys also collect debts on a regular basis.
A collector can communicate with you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector is not allowed to contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.
To stop debt collectors from contacting you, writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop may help. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Sending such a letter to a collector does not cancel the debt if you actually owe it. You can still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.
If you have retained an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney, instead of you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out your address, phone number or employer. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. In most instances, the collector cannot tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
A collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money. This must be sent to you within 5 days of first contacting you.
If within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money, they cannot keep contacting you. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.
Also, debt collectors cannot
· harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact..
· make any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt.
· cannot engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt.
Your inability to pay a debt within a reasonable and timely period may be best resolved by using some type of debt management debt consolidation or debt relief program. These services offer relief to individuals and businesses by setting up various types of payment programs. In some cases, this is a good answer to resolving debt collection problems.