What do you do when you are behind on your bills and your creditors have turned your account over to a collection agency? The constant calls from these agencies can be very stressful, and their tactics can be unmerciful. Normal practice can include threats and abuse. Collection agencies are not interested in your problems. They are only interested in collecting from you because that is how they get paid. Unless you are ready to pay them, talking to them will probably be useless. If they have your telephone number, you can count on getting a lot of calls from them.
You Have Legal Rights As A Debtor
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides you with rights. Under this Act, a creditor does have the right to call you but they have to remain within the following guidelines:
1. A creditor cannot use abusive, threatening or degrading language with you. 2. A creditor can only call between 8 am in the morning and 9 pm in the evening. However, this does not mean they can call you every 5 minutes. According to debt collection laws, doing so would probably be considered creditor harassment. It is possible you would be able to report them for a debt collection fine. Debt collectors can be fined $1000 for every occurrence. 3. Keep a record of who is calling and what time each call occurs. If the calls are coming on your cell phone, keep your bill with the list of calls on it. This record can be useful in proving that your rights were violated under the debt collection law. 4. Creditors are restricted from telling you that they are going to sue you if they have no intention to do so. It may be difficult to prove but a creditor cannot lie to you in order to collect a debt from you.
Sample Letter To Stop Creditor Harassment
Copy and Paste the following letter into a word processor. Complete your personal information, review, print, sign, copy and mail. Send the letter and other correspondence with a collection company certified mail so that you get a signature showing their receipt of your letter. Never send originals.
• Date: ______________________
(Your Name) Your Address)
Client Name(s) on account: _________________
Account #: _______________________________
Date debt incurred: ________________________
Original loan amount: ______________________
Amount past due: _________________________
Re: Collection Company: ___________________
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been unable to pay the full amount of the debt noted above for the following circumstance(s):
By law I have the right to be treated by a collection company with honor and respect. The collection company that you hired (as noted above), however, has resorted to the following practices, which violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA:
I would be willing to forgo the legal remedies that I have available, including a lawsuit in small claims court seeking punitive damages against you and the company, in exchange for your written promise to permanently cease and desist all efforts to try and collect this debt and remove all negative entries regarding this debt from my credit profile. I expect to hear from you promptly on the matter.
Home #: ____________________
cc: Federal Trade Commission
State Collection Agency Licensing Board
Collection Company: __________________________
Take Charge Of Your Debt Be an informed consumer. Do your research and fight back. If you feel that your rights as a consumer have been compromised, contact the FTC or your state’s Attorney General.
Debt Free Dave has been in the mortgage and consumer finance business for over 10 years. He has a Finance and Real Estate degree from the University of Arizona. This Article is designed to be of general interest and should not be considered legal advice. The specific information discussed may not apply to you. Before acting on any matter contained herein, you should consult with your personal legal adviser.