When debt collectors call it’s important to know your rights.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when they collect debts.
The types of debt covered are as follows:
- Credit cards
- Auto loans
- Medical bills
- Student loans
- Other household debts
Business debt is not covered under the FDCPA.
Debt collectors are bound to specific rules and guidelines.
Did you know debt collectors can’t contact you at inconvenient times or places. They can’t contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree to it. In addition, they can’t contact you at work if they’re told you’re not allowed to get calls there.
However, debt collectors can call you, or send letters, emails, or text messages to collect a debt.
If you do not wish to be contacted, there are steps you can take. Send a letter by mail asking for contact to stop (make yourself a copy before you do). You might want to send it by certified mail and pay for a “return receipt” so you have a record the collector received it. Once the collector gets your letter, it can only contact you to confirm it will stop contacting you, or to tell you a specific action, like filing a lawsuit, will be taken.
Debt collectors are not allowed to talk about your debt to anyone but you, your spouse, or your attorney. They must send you a debt validation notice within 5 days of first contacting you. The debt validation notice will tell you how much money you owe, the name of the creditor, and what the next steps are.
They cannot harass you, threaten you, or lie to you. Debt collectors are not allowed to engage in unfair practices such as depositing a post-dated check early or try to collect interest or fees or threaten to take your property.
If you have any attorney and inform the collector that you have legal representation, they must communicate with your attorney. If you think a debt collector has broken a law, you have the right to sue for any damages
Ryan is a former debt collection attorney turned consumer rights expert and advocate.
After graduating from William Mitchell law school in 2008, Ryan opened his own criminal defense firm.