As a consumer, it is important to know your rights if you are receiving harassing calls from collection agencies. Even if you do owe money, you still have rights. Thanks to federal laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act consumers are protected from unscrupulous means of debt collection.
Below are some tips for dealing with debt collection calls and understanding the rules:
1.) Debt collection calls have limits. Collectors cannot call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM, or at your work.
2.) Do not ignore a debt collector, even if you do not believe you are responsible for the debt. The Federal Trade Commission advises that you send a letter by certified mail with a return receipt. After that, they cannot contact you again except under very specific circumstances, such as filing a lawsuit against you.
3.) Debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with just anyone. They can contact others about your debt, but only to find ways to contact you. They may not discuss your debt with anyone but the person who owes the money, their spouse or their lawyer.
4.) Notification must be in writing. After you have been called by a collector, they are required to notify you within 5 days in writing with a statement of what you owe and a means to object if you dispute the debt.
5.) Abusive debt collection practices are prohibited. Debt collectors are forbidden from harassment or abuse, including threats, obscenities and repeated phone calls.
6.) Debt collectors must identify themselves. Debt collectors are forbidden from misrepresenting who they are what you owe and that owing money is a crime.
7.) Interest rates capped. Collectors cannot charge interest above what is permitted by state law.
8.) Garnishment is restricted. Garnishment is allowed only if you are sued and lose and the court orders that action.
9.) As a consumer, you can sue. You can sue a debt collector for violating the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act for both damages suffered by their acts and for simply violating the rules. You can recover actual damages and up to $1,000, plus court costs and attorney fees if you win, even if you didn’t suffer a specific loss due to the collection activity.
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If you have any questions on this topic please feel free to contact bankruptcy attorney, Timothy Kingcade at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.