Debt collectors and debt collection agencies are a real pain! They’re persistent, and sometimes, they can be downright mean.
However, there are still laws that govern them. If you come in contact with an aggressive collector, here’s what you have to know.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the law that governs what third-party debt collectors can and can’t do.
Things they can’t do include calling before 8 am and after 9 pm based on your time zone, call you at work, harass, oppress, or abuse you, lie to you, threaten you with jail time, conceal their identity, disregarding a written request from you to cease contact or dispute a debt.
Debt collectors also can’t reveal any personal information about your debt to people, except your spouse or your guardian (if you’re a minor).
Mail correspondence can’t show that the mailer is from a debt collector. Also, if you hire an attorney and the collector has your attorney’s contact information, they must correspond with your legal counsel, not you.
If the debt collector violates any of the parameters set by the FDCPA, you have one year from the date of the violation to file a complaint. You can do that by using the online form, here, or by calling (855) 411-2372.
If it ever gets to the point where you file a complaint or sue the collector, copious notes will help you make your case.
Get as many details as possible. Time, date, name of the collector, the agency they work for, the debt they are calling about, etc.
Hang up or don’t answer
If the call is from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer. If the call was important, they’ll leave a message.
Typically, debt collectors are dialing for dollars (calling A LOT), so they typically won’t leave messages. If they do, listen to it and do your research to confirm if it’s legit or not.
In a lot of cases, consumers don’t know what they’re rights are. Even though collectors must abide by the laws set forth in the FDCPA, they might not if they think they’re speaking with an uninformed individual.
If they start badgering you, use aggressive language, or violate the law in any other manner, just hang up the phone.
Write a letter
You can write a letter to a debt collector for two reasons.
One, asking them to stop. They HAVE to stop if you put it in writing. Two, dispute the debt. If you believe that the debt they are trying to collect is fraudulent or not yours, write a letter to dispute it.
Cool heads prevail
Debt collectors are ruthless. Their objective is to get as much out of you as possible before they sell the remaining portion of your debt to the next collector in line.
It’s human nature to get worked up or downright pissed off in this situation, but getting angry won’t help you.
Collectors have been conditioned to withstand a verbal thrashing from consumers. Staying calm will keep your blood pressure down and help you think straight.