Have you recently been contacted by a debt collector?
If yes, you might be worried thinking about the dire consequences! But before we proceed, you need to know when a debt collector contacts you!
Let’s say, you are not paying off your debts at all. In the first 3 to 6 months, you will receive snail mails and phone calls from your creditors. But you are ignoring your creditors’ phone calls and letters, not trying to settle your debts or chalk out a repayment schedule.
Once your debts get 6 months delinquent, the creditors opt for selling off your debts to a collection agency. And your delinquency is reported to a credit bureau. As a result, it will show up in your credit report.
Besides, you will start getting incessant collection calls every now and then like you are getting now! Because the collectors want to squeeze out money from you as much as possible.
But, what if you are getting collection calls for the debts you don’t owe!
You will say that it’s ridiculous! But it’s not impossible as well. An analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint database reveals, 44% of all complaints against debt collectors are about attempts to collect a debt which isn’t owed by the complainant!
Can you imagine? Because certain situations may arise like:
You have become a victim of identity theft! Someone has opened an account on your name and didn’t pay off the bill.
The debts which you already paid, have been sent for collection accidentally.
Some debt collectors attempt even if your statute of limitations (SOL) period. They hope that you don’t know about the SOL and you will pay off the debts due to their intimidation.
Unscrupulous debt collectors create fake debts on your name and hope that you will pay off the debts without checking the discrepancies.
So, if you get a collection call and have any doubt about the credibility of the debt, you need to handle the situation tactfully. And the best way to deal with this situation is to know your legal rights properly!
Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)! It keeps debt collection for most of the consumer debts (credit card debts, personal loans, student loans, medical debts, etc.) in check and protects consumers like you at the federal level!
On that note, you should read about your rights under the FDCPA and stop getting harassed by the collectors!
Here you go!
You have the right to ask for a written explanation of your debt
Yes, you have the right to ask for proof that the collectors owe the money. Ask for a copy of an unpaid bill or any other evidence of payment violation.
The FDCPA provides you the right to ask for the following information within 5 days of the initial communication.
The amount of debt
The name of the creditor
Set of instructions on how to repay your debts
The collectors will send you this information in the form of “validation notice”. After that, you will have a 30-day “validation period” to contact the debt collector.
Send a letter stating why you don’t owe the debt or why the amount is incorrect. In case you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of the police report.
But make sure to respond within 30 days (validation period) to dispute your debt. Else, it will be considered a valid one!
You have the right to ask for the debt collector’s name
The FDCPA has mandated a “mini-Miranda” in which the debt collectors should reveal to you that they are attempting to collect a debt. And the information provided by you will be used to collect that debt!
Legit collectors provide their business address and contact information while communicating with you.
But what if you find a collector suspicious! In that case, you can find information about the collector through your state’s attorney general or consumer general’s office.
The debt collectors don’t have the right to harass you
Debt collectors can’t do several things under the FDCPA. The debt collector is obliged to follow the rules of the FDCPA even if the third-party is an attorney! The law prohibits the collectors to:
Call you before 8 am or after 9 pm (based on your time zone)
Call you at your workplace
Use obscene or profane language
Threaten you with arrest, bodily harm, firing, public shaming, deportation, public shaming, etc.
Conceal identity over the phone
The collectors have to follow the communication guidelines
The FDCPA law states how the debt collector should act while communicating with any other person other than you.
It prohibits the collector from providing any information about your debt to anyone except you, your spouse, and your FDCPA attorney. So, consider these things before hiring an attorney and make sure the attorney focuses his/her practice on the FDCPA!
If you are a minor, the collector can share your debt-related information to your parent or guardian.
Debt collection agencies or collectors can’t publish any sort of list of consumers who haven’t paid off a debt except to a credit bureau.
It’s advisable to keep the records of all sort of communication between you and the debt collectors.
For example, if you talk over the phone, take notes about the conversation you had every each time! And if you send letters, send a certified mail with return receipt.
What if your rights have been violated!
Report the violation to the CFPB through the online complaint form or by calling at (855) 411-2372. Make sure to file a lawsuit against the collector within one year from the date of the violation.
You may receive up to $1,000 in statutory damages along with attorney fees and costs!
So, don’t wait! Know your rights and stop getting harassed for the debts which you don’t owe!