What a Debt Collector Can and Can’t Do

If you have ever been late on a bill, then you understand how burdensome the debt can be. Perhaps you got behind due to an unforeseen circumstance, like a job loss or medical emergency. Maybe the bills got too much after you bought the house, and your interest rates on credit cards started to rise. However, the debt happened, if you’ve ever been underwater, you understand the suffocating feeling past-due bills can have on you. The worst parts about it are the constant letters and calls from debt collectors. The hounding has even expanded to include your family. Understanding what is and isn’t appropriate for a debt collector is essential. You have the right to report unfair practices.

Federal Regulations of Debt Collectors

Debt collectors are limited in what they can do by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, established in 1977. It requires collectors to identify themselves clearly and stops them from tricking people into believing they are something else. They must also present evidence that the debt is valid by furnishing information from the original creditor. Many collection agencies, including those operating as law firms, purchase debt from creditors, usually for pennies on the dollar. Once they take it on, they pursue collections at their behest, but they still must maintain the original creditor’s information, even if it is years old.

How the Fair Debt Collection Act Protects Consumers

The FDCAP was created to protect consumers from predatory practices collectors may use to try and intimidate you to into doing what they want. While you may not believe there are enough measures in place based on what you have experienced, you need to know that the type of things collectors can do are scaled back quite a bit. Some of the prohibitions in the FDCAP include:

  • Using foul language
  • Calling between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
  • Threaten you with harm
  • Lie when you ask them questions
  • Continue calling you at your place of business once you have requested they stop

Collectors can call you repeatedly in a day, but they cannot call you continuously. Their repeated attempts to contact you may be considered harassment.

Watch Out for Scam Collectors 

Collectors must play by the rules, or they may wind up being reported and being put out of business. If you encounter someone who identifies themselves as a collector but breaks the standards established in the FDCAP, it may be a scammer. Never give personal information or make a payment over the phone without verification.

If you are dealing with an enormous amount of debt, you may want to speak to a bankruptcy lawyer, like a bankruptcy law firm, for guidance. Since each state has different laws, and each situation is different, speaking with a professional may be your best bet.