If you have been contacted by a debt collector in the last year, you are not alone. Nearly a third of all U.S. consumers have reported being contacted by a creditor or debt collector about a debt. As a consumer, your rights are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Here are some key facts to know if a debt collector contacts you.
- You do not have to reveal personal information. Debt collectors might ask you for your Social Security number, date of birth or other information. However, you are not legally required to provide this information. Collectors should use the information they already have available to them.
- You have a right to ask for details – and you can ask a debt collector not to contact you. You should always ask that they verify the accuracy of the debt. This means the collector must provide details of the debt when they speak to you, or in writing, within five days of the call. This allows you to confirm that you actually owe the amount. If the information is inaccurate, you have 30 days to dispute the debt.
- You can ask to have a settled debt removed from your credit reports. If you pay off an account in collections in full, it will not erase it from your credit reports right away. In fact, it will remain on your reports for seven years. However, if you negotiate with the debt collector to settle the debt, you can ask to have that debt removed from your credit reports.
- Debts have a statute of limitations. State laws determine how long a creditor has to collect an amount owed to them. The time period ranges from two to six years. After this time, you still owe the debt, however; creditors can no longer come after you to collect it. This type of debt is sometimes called zombie debt or time-barred debt.
- You can file a complaint. If you believe a debt collector is acting unethically or has violated your rights as a consumer, contact authorities. Some states have debt collection laws that differ from the FDCPA.
Click here to read more on this story.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.