Getting Calls from Debt Collectors? Know Your Rights.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

I know getting debt collection calls is stressful. And sometimes it is hard to figure out if the collection call is about a debt that ever belonged to you. I had my own encounter with a debt collector a while back. They were trying to collect a debt against a different “Timothy Snyder” in another state. Instead of taking time to figure out the correct “Timothy Snyder” they attempted to collect against several individuals named “Timothy Snyder”. Yeah, bad idea.

Fortunately, even if you do owe the debt you still have extensive rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is a Federal statute that protects consumers from abusive, harassing or unfair debt collection practices by third party debt collectors.

If you are behind on your bills and are stressed by calls from debt collectors, it is important to know what your rights are under the FDCPA. The FDCPA allows individuals whose FDCPA rights have been violated to recover actual damages, statutory damages, and attorney fees.

Below is a very, very, abbreviated list of some of your rights:

Collectors cannot contact you at inconvenient times or places. This means they generally cannot e.g., call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Collectors cannot contact you at work if you’ve told them your employer prohibits you from receiving these calls at work.

Collectors cannot contact your friends, neighbors, relatives, or employer, other than to get your contact information.

Collectors generally cannot contact you if they know you are represented by an attorney with respect to the debt.

Collectors generally must stop contacting you if you tell them to do so in writing.

Collectors may not harass or abuse you.

Collectors must disclose their identity when calling you.

Collectors may not use deceptive methods to collect a debt. This means they can’t:

-lie about how much you owe

-falsely claim to be law enforcement

-claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay

-threaten to seize property or garnish wages -unless they have obtained a judgement against you and are permitted by law to take the threatened action

-provide false credit information about you to a credit reporting company, an employer, or anyone else

-provide a fake company name

You also have the right to demand that the collector verify the debt. Note, to exercise this right you must demand verification in writing within thirty days of receiving written notice of your verification rights.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. And, there are many nuances. If you feel your rights have been violated please call me at (904) 419-9858 for a free consultation.