Debt Collectors, the FDCPA and Your Rights

I've been helping people deal with debt issues and more specifically, debt collectors for many years.  It still amazes me that some (not all) unscrupulous debt collectors are still violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and yet, are not facing charges. 

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If you have found yourself behind on paying your bills due to any one of many circumstances beyond your control, then most likely you have been called by a debt collector.

The debt collection industry serves a purpose in assisting creditors with collecting on unpaid debt that is legitimately owed by a consumer.  I say "legitimately" because many of these companies will purchase debt from creditors or other debt vendors in an attempt to collect. 

Most of the time, these debts have been written off 100% by the original creditor and these guys by up huge blocks of "debt" at pennies on the dollar.

Although I don't fault anyone or any company trying to make a profit, I do take serious issue with debt collection companies that prey on consumer's fear and lack of knowledge concerning their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The first thing you need to do is to understand your basic rights or in other words, understand what a debt collector can and cannot do...legally.

The Federal Trade Commission is an agency of the United States Government that was formed to protect consumers rights and to enforce violations.  The FTC has published a short, yet very informative article that you should download and read carefully.  To get you copy, click here:

Federal Trade Commission...Facts for Consumers

In a nutshell, here is basically what a debt collector (yes, many debt collectors are in fact attorneys) can and cannot do:

They CANNOT:

  • Call you before 8am or after 9pm (in your time zone)
  • Use an automated dialer to call many, many times a day.
  • Call you at your place of employment after you have verbally requested that they not call you there.
  • Harass or abuse you by using threats of violence or harm as well as using obscene language.
  • Falsely imply that you have committed a crime and will be prosecuted.
  • Threaten that they will seize or garnish your property, income or bank account unless they intend to do so within a reasonable amount of time or have already obtained a judgment.
  • Call your friends, family or co-workers and discuss your debt.  They may contact others, but only to attempt to get or confirm your contact information.
  • Use "official" government looking stationery trying to represent that they represent the government or agency.

If you think that your rights have been violated, but are not positive, you have several options:

You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission  Here is a link to that site:

FTC Complaint Assistant

You can contact your state's attorney general's office and file a complaint.  Just do a "Google search" for your state's attorney genera's site.  For example, here in Oregon, you would go to:

State of Oregon Consumer Complaint Form

If that doesn't help, there are numerous attorneys that specialize in defending consumer's rights that have been violated by debt collectors.  For example, I just did a search in Google ( you can use any search engine) using "debt collector harassment" and found dozens of sites by attorneys.

One of the most annoying practices used by debt collectors is to call you several times a day or week! 

Fortunately, you can put a stop to these calls!  Here is a link that will tell you what to do:

 

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

 

Most people who are dealing with debt collectors have gotten themselves into financial trouble due to one of several circumstances, such as:

  • Loss of employment or reduced income
  • Retired living on fixed income
  • Divorce
  • Death of spouse or partner
  • Illness or disability

You may be in a position to offer a settlement on your debt.  Here is some information that you may find very helpful:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

 

But, although you can negotiate and make settlement offers on your own, it is very time consuming and dealing with a professional debt collector can be a very trying experience.

We have been helping people like you since 2003 and would be glad to see if we could help.  For a FREE CONSULTATION, just click below:

FREE  Debt Elimination Summary

 

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