Have you recently started avoiding phone calls or noticed yourself anxious to check the mail for fear that you’ll run into correspondence from a debt collector? If so, you’re not alone. Many people depending on lending institutions to get by and, as a consequence, are faced with some amount of debt. As the system currently stands, it is up to you to educate yourself on lending policies, laws, and debt collection strategies. For example, can a debt collector contact you through your place of work? Can they make threats to take your house or sue you if you do not pay your debts?

To answer these questions it’s important to look at the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the laws that it enacts for protecting debtors from unfair debt collection practices.

First contacts

When contacting consumers for the first time, a debt collector is required to inform the debtors of their rights and the process for disputing the debts. The debtor needs to be told about the debt amount, the creditor’s name, that the debt will be validated if the consumer doesn’t dispute it in 30 days, and that the debtor can request for the debt to be verified.

Disputing debts

If an agency contacts a consumer, he or she can ask for written verification of their obligations. This needs writing using a verification document that must be presented in 30 days after the first contact. Collection letters and calls shouldn’t continue until the debt has been verified.

Stopping the calls

Consumers have the right to stop a debt collector from calling them consistently, especially when at work. Such calls can jeopardize a consumer’s job. Debt collectors are also not authorized to harass a debtor’s friends and neighbors. The request must be presented only in writing.

Harassment and abuse

Threatening or using violence to harm a consumer, including their character or property is illegal in this Act. Obscene, offensive and profane language is also banned. Harassing a consumer with calls is not allowed including attacking their family members, co-workers or neighbors.

Misrepresentation

Debt collectors aren’t allowed to misrepresent themselves to consumers. The law prohibits deceptive, misleading or false tactics that have been commonly used to try to collect debts.

Sources

Loan Info | Power Finance

Fair Lending Laws and Regulations | FDIC

7 Tips for Choosing the Right Lending Options | Entrepreneur