With the belt of the economy tightening people are starting to have to make choices on what to pay and what not to pay. For anyone who has ever been behind on their bills the worst part is the constant harassment of the collectors. I actually spent three years of my life in the collection business, we were taught the rules but we were also silently encouraged to get a close to breaking them as possible although technically the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) did not apply to us. The US Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in an attempt to eliminate the abusive practices of collection agencies and provide a way for debtors to dispute issues and inaccuracies.
The law itself defines a “Debt Collector” as
any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another…
But NOT included under the term “Debt Collector” is
any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the creditor, collecting debts for such creditor
The stipulations in the law apply only to those people or entities defined specifically as Debt Collectors, some of the key areas of the law you should be concerned with are:
Debt collectors may not discuss your debt with any person other than you, they may contact third parties but only in an attempt to determine your location, they may not specify that you owe a debt and they may not continue to contact the third party unless they believe the information provided was erroneous.
Regarding the third parties and the collection of debt:
a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than a consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency…
Additionally if the collector is told or has reason to believe you are represented by an attorney they may not communicate with any person other than your attorney.
The debt collector may not contact you outside of the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m, or at any other time where it may be inconvenient for you.
As it applies to your place of employment the law states:
at the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication
You, as a debtor, have the right to request in writing the collector/collection agency cease all communication with you, at which point they may not continue to actively pursue the debt although you may still receive written correspondence to acknowledge receipt of your request and to notify of a specific remedy to your debt.
Debt collectors may not partake in any harassing behavior such as threatening to do harm to the property, reputation, or physical person. Additionally they may not use obscene language or repeatedly call or cause to a phone to ring with the intent to harass.
Additional rules are in place which prevent collectors from misrepresenting themselves, they must specify who they work for and what debt they are trying to collect.
The complete text of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act can be found on the FTC’s website HERE.
Keep in mind you specific state may have additional laws in place which could provide additional levels of protection
Photo Adapted From: (szlea)