Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Can A Debt Collector Legally Do?

If you are having credit problems, it is important to know what creditors and collection agencies may and may not do to collect debts.

The state Consumer Protection Act prohibits some debt collection practices. When dealing directly with you, creditors and collection agencies may not:

Call you more than twice for each debt in each 7 day period at home, or call you more than twice for each debt in each 30 day period at someplace other than your home.

Call you without identifying both the name of the creditor and the name of the person calling.

Call you at times other than your normal waking hours. If your waking hours are unknown, then the creditor or collector may only call between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Visit your home at times other than those mentioned above. A collector cannot visit more than once in any 30 day period for each debt, unless you give permission for additional visits.

Cause you to be charged for long distance calls (or other similar costs).

Call you at work if you requested that they not call. Your oral request is valid for only 10 days, unless you confirm it in writing within 7 days of making the request. Written request are valid until you write to the collector removing the restriction.

Contact you directly, if you have told the creditor or collection agency to only contact your attorney.

Falsely threaten to take legal action.

Use profane or obscene language.

Additionally, creditors and collection agencies may not

Tell anyone (including friends, neighbors, relatives, or employers) about your debt.

Send collection notices in a way that openly indicates or implies that you owe a debt (for example, using postcards or descriptive return addresses.)

Federal law provides some additional protections against debt collection agencies. (This law does not apply to creditors):

Collectors must verify your debt. Collectors must stop calling you if, within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the agency a letter indicating that you do not owe the debt. They can only renew their collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt.

You may stop a debt collector from contacting you. Write a letter to the collector telling them to stop contacting you. Once the collection agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. They also may contact you to inform you if they are going to take some specific action, such as suing you.

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