Collection Agency Laws and You

December 15th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Have you ever wondered how Collection Agency Laws actually affect the way that Debt Collection Agencies conduct their business? I do, as I was recently contacted by a collection agency regarding a debt that I supposedly owed. And here’s the really bad part – I didn’t owe anything because I was a victim of identity theft. Funny, but I had never even worried or cared about collection law because my credit had always been very good, if not perfect. Enter my nightmare.

Not only did I have to deal with the major process of filling reports with the state Attorney General, local authorities, and credit reporting agencies, but I had to deal with this very persistent collection agency. Unfortunately, as I quickly found out, there are many times when an unscrupulous debt collector will try to circumvent the law in order to collect on a debt that you may or may not owe. Fortunately for people like you and I, there are laws in place to help protect us.

In all fairness, the collection agency had simply been given my overdue account (actually, some unknown scumbag’s account), and were simply doing their job. I completely understood what they were doing, but even after I explained my situation to them they still kept sending me letters and calling me at all hours of the day. They informed me that I would need to send them some sort of proof that it was not me on the account and that I was, indeed, a victim of identity fraud. What a complete and time consuming hassle that was — and is fodder for a completely different article.

As I continued to research The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which is a United States statute that protects the consumer from unfair and abusive practices regarding the collection of a debt, I quickly realized that this particular collection agency was violating many of the laws as set forth by the above agency. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also goes hand in hand with the FDCPA, and I would strongly suggest that you, as a consumer, read the above mentioned statutes. Simply go online like I did and search using the keywords. You’ll find a ton of great articles and information about the subject.

For instance, did you know that the FDCPA has issued guidelines under which debt collectors conduct their business? That’s right. Some of these “rules'” include the hours that you may be contacted, trying to communicate with you while you’re at your place of employment, misrepresentation or deceit, publishing your name on a “bad debt” list, and so on.

Here are a few examples of what this particular collection agency was doing to me, and how they were in violation of the law:

1. They were calling me before and after the designated hours defined by law. They can only call during reasonable hours. I once received a call at 6:15 in the morning. On a Sunday!

2. They were in the habit of calling me at my place of business. They can’t do this if you tell them to stop.

3. The individuals representing their company were threatening me with a wage garnishment and a bank levy. Not! They can only do this if the original creditor had obtained a judgment against me. And in some states, these procedures are not allowed.

4. They told me that they were going to discuss the situation with my boss. They cannot discuss debts with people who have nothing to do with them.

5. They called my family members and did their best to pry information out of them. They can call and try to find out my physical location, but they cannot mention that they are collecting a debt.

The above is not a complete list by any means. As I continued to research the laws, I discovered that they were in violation of all five of the above listed methods of collection. My non-legal advise to you, if you ever encounter a situation involving debt like I did, is play hardball. Be strong but firm, document/record everything, and inform them that they are in direct violation of collection law and can be sued for their constant harassment.

There are plenty of hungry lawyers out there that love to sue collection agencies whore in violation of the law. Contact an attorney or the Federal Trade Commission (who enforces the FDCPA), and take action against those that are breaking the law. Life is too short to have to put up with this sort of funny business.

Questions Answered About Collection Agency Laws

December 12th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Even though the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was put into place in order to protect consumers from bill collectors who would bend the law, many don’t understand exactly what their rights are. Here are some of the most common questions about collection agency laws, and the answers.

* Does the FDCPA apply to only consumer debt, or business debt also? The FDCPA was put into place for consumer debt, and those owing business debt don’t have the same rights as consumers do.

* Are bill collectors allowed to call me and day and night? No. Collection agency laws specify when debt collectors are allowed to call you. They aren’t allowed to call before 8 am or after 9 pm in your time zone. The law isn’t specific as to how many times a debt collector can call you, but it’s understood that they aren’t allowed to use the phone in an attempt to harass you into paying your debt.

* Can a bill collector have me arrested? Only a court of law can issue a warrant for arrest, not a debt collector. If a debt collector threatens to “dispatch” the police department or have you thrown in jail, they are acting against collection agency laws.

* Can a collection agency sue me? Yes, in some instances, a collection agency has a right to file a lawsuit against you. But unless they actually plan to file suit, or are legally allowed to do so, they can’t make the threat. For instance, if your debt is time-barred, they no longer have the ability to sue you.

* Can a bill collector harass me about an old debt? Each state has a statute of limitations regarding various types of debt. The statute of limitations typically ranges from 3 to 10 years. Once a debt has reached that stage, a debt collector is still allowed to pursue payment, but is no longer able to take a consumer to court for payment.

* Can a debt collector call my family or boss about my debt? No. The FDCPA is very specific about third party contacts. A debt collector can call a third party once in an attempt to contact you, but isn’t allowed to talk to them about your debt. They aren’t allowed to call again unless the person invites them to. Collection agency laws grant you the right to privacy when it comes to your personal finances.

* Can I make the debt collector stop calling me? Yes. The FDCPA gives you the right to send a cease and desist letter to the collection agency asking it to stop contacting you by phone, or even by mail if you don’t want to hear from them at all. This won’t stop their collection efforts, but it will give you peace from constant collection attempts.

Knowing your rights under the FDCPA can make all the difference in the world when it comes to debt collectors. If you don’t know yours, consider reading the entire bill before your next interaction with a debt collector. If they know that you understand collection agency laws, they’ll be less likely to break them.

Collection Agency Law Explained

December 8th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

If you have ever been contacted by a collection agency, you know that it can be an unpleasant experience. A collection agency can turn simple acts, such as checking the mail or answering the phone, into dreaded tasks. However, it is important to know that there is a law in place intended to protect the people that collection agencies contact. The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) was enacted to keep debt collectors from abusing, harassing, or deceiving a person when attempting to collect a debt. It also gives debt collectors strict guidelines to follow when collecting a debt. In this article, we will have this collection agency law explained in simple terms, to better inform debtors of their rights.

For starters, the FDCPA outlines very clear practices for debt collectors to follow when contacting a debtor. Debt collectors are only allowed to call during reasonable hours (usually 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.), but they are also allowed to call a debtor at work. However, if the debtor notifies the collection agent that their employer wants the calls to cease, the debt collector must stop calling the person’s place of employment.

There are also rules of conduct a collection agency must follow when collecting a debt. A debt collector is forbidden from harassing any person from whom they are trying to collect a debt. Examples of harassment include excessively calling, insulting the debtor, or using obscene language. A debt collector is also not allowed to make false statements when collecting a debt. Examples of false statements include posing as a government official, making threats (lawsuits, imprisonment, seizing of home and property, etc.), or telling the debtor they owe more than they actually do. In addition, a debt collector can not use unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. These practices include collecting an amount larger than what the debtor actually owes, or suing the debtor for a debt they do not owe.

The FDCPA requires collection agencies to notify debtors of their rights, and any correspondence (mail or phone) has to contain the information that the contact is being used to collect a debt. The only reason a collection agency can contact a third party (family or friend) is to acquire the debtor’s phone number or address. If the collection agency has this information, they are forbidden to contact a third party. It is also illegal for collection agencies to tell a third party that they are attempting to collect a debt.

The FDCPA is in place to protect the rights of debtor’s while making a collection agent’s job clear and concise. If a person being contacted by a debt collector feels that they are experiencing the violations discussed in this article, it is important that these misconducts are accurately documented. The reason for this is so that the claims can be proven if the debtor decides to take legal action.

Now that you have had this collection agency law explained, you should feel more confident about your rights if you are ever contacted by a debt collector. It is best to avoid the situation altogether by staying current on your debts, but it is good to know that the FDCPA exists if ever find yourself on the receiving end of a collection call.