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Can a debt collector really do that?

You have enough going on in your life without having to listen to debt collectors tell you that you must pay them or else. Your already know that your financial situation is in need of some relief, so you certainly don't need daily calls reminding you of your situation.

The problem is that debt collectors have the right to contact you, but only within certain parameters. They tend to count on people like you not knowing what they can and can't do legally. Arming yourself with the right information could make your life a bit easier during this stressful time.

Let's start with what debt collectors can do

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act recognizes that creditors have a right to attempt to collect the debts you owe them. This means that they may do the following to that end:

  • They may contact you via email, phone, text or mail.
  • They may discuss the debt with you or your spouse, unless you have an attorney.
  • They may contact others to determine your address, place of employment and phone number. Usually, this is a one-time contact.
  • They may contact you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. only.
  • They may contact you at work unless told you cannot receive calls while there.
  • They must tell you the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt, along with what you may do if you believe the debt is not yours.

If you don't want a debt collector contacting you at all, you may send a letter asking the company to stop contacting you. It's highly recommended that you send it registered mail and return receipt requested in order to retain proof that the company received it. Thereafter, only limited contact for a specific purpose may occur. If you have an attorney, you can provide that information to the caller, and no one should contact you again.

Let's finish with what they can't do

The FDCPA limits the actions that debt collectors may take. If one does any of the following, you may have a claim against the company:

  • They cannot lie about the debt, misrepresent who they are or tell you that police may arrest you for not paying the debt.
  • They cannot harass you by threatening violence against you, repeatedly calling you or using obscene language.
  • They must not use unfair practices such as depositing a post-dated check early, trying to collect other fees on top of the amount owed (such as fees or interest) or threaten to take property if you don't pay without going through legal channels.

If creditors and debt collection agents fail to meet all of the requirements set forth in the FDCPA, you can assert your rights. You may be unable to pay a debt at this time, but that does not give anyone the right to harass or abuse you.

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