One of the things that make debt very hard to live with are the collection calls that go along with it. Most of the time, these calls turn ugly and threatening. It keeps consumers awake at night and it brings in a whole new level of stress that can lead to a lot of health complications.
This is only one of the dreaded effects of debt and if you want to relieve yourself from it, you have to know your rights first. There are rules and regulations that bound debt collectors and these are all designed to protect consumers.
The most prominent law that you have to know is the FDCPA. Short for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this contains a list of do’s and don’ts for all debt collectors and even the original creditors. The federal government came up with this law as part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and it helped a lot of consumers in dealing with their respective debt problems. This was most helpful during the most recent economic crisis that the US went through.
When you start hearing from debt collectors, this usually means that you had been late on your payments. While your debt is your own responsibility and you have to own up to it, that does not mean your life should be made a living hell for it. Here are the important parts of the FDCPA that will help you communicate with them.
Based on the FDCPA, debt collectors are expected to:
1. Identify themselves, the original creditor, debt amount and provide proof that the debt being collected is owned by the consumer. Everything must have a written documentation.
2. Explain the rights of the consumers in terms of disputing a collection or verification request. Consumers should also be made aware that they have 30 days to do it.
3. Respond when needed when a dispute or verification request is submitted.
4. Stop collection calls/communication when requested by the consumer.
5. File a lawsuit only in the State where the consumer lives or the contract is signed.
Also stipulated in the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from:
1. Calling the consumer:
- outside the timeframe of 8am to 9pm (local time of the consumer).
- repeatedly as it is harassment.
- in the workplace when the consumer requests that calls should be in their home.
- when they have a representative (e.g. a debt relief expert or a lawyer).
- before submitting verification of the debt.
2. Misrepresenting themselves as a law enforcer or lawyer.
3. Placing the consumer’s name on the list of “bad debts” without prior notice.
4. Collecting an amount that they cannot justify or is not part of the original debt.
5. Making false legal or arrest threats.
6. Using abusive or profane language.
7. Calling other people to discuss the debt of the consumer.
8. Placing incorrect information on the credit report of the debtor.
The FDCPA is not only there to protect the consumer, it also encourages fair collection of debts and to provide a venue for any complaints against abusive collectors.
Read this law and know it by heart. If you really want to stop collection calls, you can also use debt management for that. You will be assigned a debt counselor who will help negotiate and communicate with creditors on your behalf.