Know Your Debt Collection Rights
July 24, 2017
Did you know that more than 70 million people were contacted by a debt collector between 2014 and 2015? (Consumer Experiences in Debt Collection Survey, 2017)
Receiving a call from a debt collector can be stressful. Your first instinct may be to hide or ignore the situation and hope it goes away. But that can make things worse.
FIND OUT THE THREE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HELP RESPOND TO A DEBT COLLECTOR.
FIRST, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
There are laws that restrict what debt collection can say or do. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collection companies from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debts from you. See: Debt Collection.
You Have Rights
Most debt collectors follow the law when contacting you, but some do not. If you have a problem with debt collection, you can take action.
The law prohibits debt collectors from:
Repeatedly calling to harass you
Abusing or mistreating you
Contact you at a time or place they know or should know is inconvenient (including before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless they know otherwise)
Use of obscene language
Making a false or misleading statement about what you owe
Publishing your name for not paying the debt
Lie to you
Threaten to have you arrested for not paying the debt
You should know that even if a debt collector violates the law, the debt does not go away. You do have the right to sue, and if you win, the judge can require the debt collector to pay you damages. The court can also order the debt collector to pay your attorney fees if it is determined that they did violate the law.
MAKE SURE THE DEBT IS YOURS
When a debt collector calls, ask questions to find out if the debt and the debt collector are legit. You should find out:
What Information Does A Debt Collector Have To Give Me About The Debt?
A debt collector must tell you the name of the creditor, the amount owed, and ensure you can dispute the debt or find out if it is legit.
Who you’re talking to (get the person’s name)
The name of the debt collection company they work for
The company’s address and phone number
The name of the original creditor
The amount owed
How you can dispute the debt or ensure that the debt is yours
Take notes and document everything
We have a sample letter that can help you to request additional information from a debt collector. Go to: Collection Agency Disputes And Sample Letter
Depending on your situation, there may be several different actions that you can take when you are contacted about a debt.
If the debt is old it may be beyond the Statute of Limitations. In Illinois the Statute of Limitations for written contracts and promissory notes is 10 years; but credit cards is only 5 years.
If you’re not sure that the debt is yours, write the debt collector and dispute the debt or ask for more information.
If you find out that the debt does not belong to you, don’t delay! Write the debt collector and tell them that the debt is not yours and that you do not want to be contacted about the debt again in the future
If the debt is yours, don’t worry. Decide on the total amount you are willing to pay to settle the entire debt and negotiate with the debt collector for the rest to be forgiven. This could be a lump sum or a payment plan. Be honest with yourself about how much you can pay each month. If you do owe the debt and this particular debt in combination with other debts is too much to reasonably handle you might well consider relief under the Bankruptcy Code. ROBERT J. ADAMS & ASSOCIATES has helped thousands of good people over a span of 40 years by helping them file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.