Dealing with debt collectors is never fun. That’s true whether you legitimately owe money or not. Whether a debt collector is calling you about a valid debt, someone else’s debt or about a debt that you don’t owe, you have options. In many cases, you can put an end to those phone calls by simply exercising your rights. Strict laws are in place about how collection efforts are handled. Most of these laws fall under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, or FDCPA. It’s well worth it to study up about these laws because you never know when they will come in handy.
Other People’s Debts
A debt collector may only contact you once about another person’s debt. If they contact you repeatedly about a friend or relative, for example, they are breaking the law. In addition to that, they are not allowed to ask you for contact information for another person. From time to time, a debt collector may contact you about a debt that isn’t yours. For example, the wrong phone number may be on file. If a debt collector continues to bother you about such a debt, you should send a cease and desist letter. You may also need to contact the state attorney general’s office or the FTC.
When and How often can They Call?
Even if you legitimately owe a debt, there are restrictions about when and how often a debt collector can contact you regarding debt collections. For one thing, debt collectors are prohibited from contacting you repeatedly. They are also only permitted to contact you by phone between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your local time zone. If they call at a particularly inconvenient time, you can tell them not to contact you at that time again. They must avoid contacting you at that time in the future. You can also ask the debt collector to strictly contact you in writing in the future, but the debt collector can refuse to do so.
Verifying a Debt
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, consumers are allowed to ask collectors to verify a debt, which means that collectors must produce proof that a person owes a specific debt. You should always put this to use. The first time you receive a call about a debt, ask the debt collector to verify it. If the debt isn’t yours, the calls should stop. If it is yours, you will at least buy some time so that you can formulate your next move.
- Photo Credit: title=”Are we done yet?–Daily Image 2011–January 13” by Rochelle, just rochelle, on Flickr
- Photo Credit: title=”keyhole Punjab” by dickuhne, on Flickr