If you recently lost a job, went through a health crisis or had some other type of catastrophic event in your life, you might be behind on your bills. While you have good intentions and want to catch up on your obligations, debt collectors do not care. They are paid to collect your money, and they will do anything within reason to get it from you. If you are tired of the harassing phone calls, you need to understand the legalities of creditors rights or debt collection practices. Once you are familiar with creditors rights, as well as your own rights in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you will be able to eliminate some of your stress.
What is the Difference Between a Creditor and a Debt Collector?
A creditor is the original company to which you owe money for a service or product. Debt collectors attempt to regain money owed to the original creditor. In most cases debt collectors purchase the debt from the creditor for a rate that is much less than the original amount owed. If they collect the original amount owed then they produce a significant profit.
Since debt collectors have an opportunity to make money by getting you to pay, they will go to extremes to collect from you. Often times the practices they use are unfair, or even illegal. You must be aware of creditors rights or debt collection laws to effectively deal with these practices.
Can Debt Collectors Contact Me or My Family Any Time?
You have the right to tell debt collectors, in writing or verbally, that you are not allowed to receive calls at work. They may not continue to contact you at work after receipt of such notice. Additionally, debt collectors may not contact you past nine in the evening or prior to eight in the morning.
Debt collectors may not continually contact your family. They can legally contact your friends or family one time to receive information regarding your current address or phone number; however, they cannot share information about your debt with a third-party other than an attorney who represents you.
How Do I Know if Debt Collectors are Using Unfair Practices?
While there are creditors rights or debt collection tactics that are perfectly fair and legal, these collectors do have to abide by the FTC’s regulations. Debt collectors may not tell you the police will arrest you, threaten you with time in jail if you don’t pay, or threaten to harm you or your loved ones. They cannot lie to you about who they are or how much you owe, use obscene language or publish your name on any type of public “debtor’s list”.
What to Do if Unfair Practices Are Being Used
If someone is using unfair practices to attempt to collect a debt, you have the right to file a lawsuit for damages such as medical bills or lost wages due to the illegal tactics. You can also file a complaint with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Attorney General in your state.
Know your rights. You do not have to deal with debt collector harassment. Debt collectors do not have the right to threaten and harass you or your family. If you are experiencing debt collector harassment, take appropriate action right away.