People in debt sometimes find they cannot pay their bills. Various circumstances like illness, death of the bread winner, accidents, etc. happen to even the most stalwart of consumers.
When the non payment escalates to the point that a debt collector enters the picture, the pressure becomes intense. Some debt collectors use unauthorized and unlawful tactics in their attempts to collect.
However, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the law is on the consumer’s side. It prohibits…
1. Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.
2. Use of threats of violence or harm.
3. Publishing a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts unless they are sending this to a credit bureau.
4. Use obscene or profane language.
5. The repeated use of the telephone to annoy someone.
6. False statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply they are attorneys or government representatives
- falsely imply that you have committed a crime
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau
- misrepresent the amount of your debt
- indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
- indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are
Debt collectors also may not state that:
- you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.
- they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so.
- actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.
Debt collectors may not:
- give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau.
- send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.
- use a false name.
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:
- collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge.
- deposit a post-dated check prematurely.
- use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.
- take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally.
- contact you by postcard.
The law is actually consumer friendly and the debtor who doesn’t use it is whistling in the wind.