4 Rights Consumers Have When It Comes To Dealing With Debt Collectors
For the first time, a national survey of consumer experiences with debt collectors was conducted, and it found that consumers got calls repeatedly, at all hours of the day and night and were met with jail time and various other threats.
Some calls were about debts they no longer owed, and when asked to quit contacting them, those requests were disregarded.
Rich Cordray, CDPB director, said the report highlights a real problem within the industry and the Bureau and working hard to stop the threats and abuse. Another issue though is that many people don’t know what their rights are when they’re faced with a debt collection call.
What Are Your Rights When It Comes To Debt Collectors
You’re In Good Company
70 million consumers are affected by the debt collection agency, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. The biggest reasons people are contacted about debt is credit card and medical debt, with more consumers making complaints to the CFPB about debt collection practices than other financial services or products.
The Federal Trade Commission is the agency that enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and it said debt collectors tend to produce more complaints than any industry. Though many debt collectors will practice in the realm of law, some do partake in illegal practices.
You Do Have Protection
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have protection from being pursued for personal debts like money owed on a car loan, mortgage or credit card. There is no protection for debts that are the result of a business.
You Do Have Rights
Debt collectors may contact you by letter, phone, text message or email but only if they are in accordance with the law and make it known that they are from a debt collector. A debt collector cannot pretend to be another person in an effort to threaten or harass you.
They are not permitted to contact you at inconvenient places or times such as work once you’ve made them aware of it, early in the morning or late in the evening.
According to federal law, they can only call you a certain number of times, and they cannot use obscene language or threaten violence against you.
They may also not lie to collect debt. They can attain information about you – location or telephone number – and they cannot talk about your debt to anyone other than you, a spouse or an attorney.
You Can Report Problem Creditors
If a debt collector is harassing you, threatening you or doing anything illegal to collect debt, you can talk with the Attorney General’s office in your state, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission and make a report. Many states have laws that vary from the federal government, so be sure to reach out to your state’s attorney general’s office for assistance.