Have you been continuously called or bothered by debt collectors? Has a collector told you that you might be arrested if the debt is not paid? The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is in place to stop this kind of behavior. The Act requires that debt collectors not only treat people fairly, it also bans specific types of collection methods.
Dealing with debt collectors can be overwhelming and intimidating. If debt collectors are tormenting you, it is important to understand how the law protects you. A local Vadnais Heights attorney experienced with consumer rights can help if debt collectors are treating you unfairly. Read further for information on how the FDCPA can affect you.
Debts that are covered
The Act protects your personal, family and household debts. This means that your auto loan, medical bills and credit cards fall under the scope of the FDCPA.
Ways a debt collector can contact you
According to the Act, a collector can use several methods to contact you. The collector can try to reach you by telephone, mail, fax or certified letter. Collectors can even contact you directly face-to-face. However, there are restrictions on when and where a collector can contact you. For example, the Act prohibits collectors from calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you grant express permission to do so. Furthermore, collectors cannot contact you at work if your employer does not permit it.
You can stop the contact
You can stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter explicitly directing them to stop. The collector will not be able to contact you again except to inform you of specific actions or to say there will not be further contact. Keep in mind that sending the letter does not erase the debt. A collector can still file a suit to collect the debt.
Collectors contacting third parties
If you have a lawyer, collectors have to call him or her instead of you. Collectors can also contact other third parties to find out certain contact information such as where you live, your phone number, and even where you are currently employed. For example, a collector might call your parents in an attempt to find out your contact information. Usually, collectors cannot call third parties more than once when attempting to gather information.
Debt collectors cannot use harassment or oppressive techniques to intimidate you. They cannot threaten violent acts or harm, nor can they make your debt public except to the credit bureau. In addition, they cannot use foul language or call you repeatedly as an annoyance tactic.
The Act also bans collectors from knowingly making erroneous statements or using misleading information. For example, a collector cannot imply that they are lawyers or have official government positions. They cannot suggest that you have committed a crime or threaten you with arrest. Also, collectors cannot tell you that they will take legal action, such as wage garnishments or property seizures, if the action is not legal or if they do not truly intend to take such measures.
Collectors cannot use unfair practices while trying to secure payment for your debt. For example, they cannot take more than what you owe unless permitted by the state. If you write them a post-dated check, they cannot deposit it early. In addition, they cannot use any deceptive tactics when trying to get you to accept their calls or certified letters.
Get the help you need
Unethical debt collectors can be very difficult to deal with. If you feel that a collector is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is important to know your rights. Let a Minnesota attorney experienced with consumer laws help you handle your situation.