Protect Yourself From Credit Card Debt Collectors
By Bill Perez
Now more than ever, Americans are forced to face the repercussions of the ongoing economic crisis. With lenders extending more credit to drowning consumers, and families taking out high risk secondary loans on their homes, consumers scatters to find optimal solutions for their newly acquired financial burdens. With the lack of jobs increasing, more people are turning to Debt Settlement, Debt Relief and Debt Mediation as a means to alleviate some of their debt load.
Although these methods allow for a fairly noble solution with confronting debt, in most cases, creditors fail to call off their collection agencies once notified of a consumer’s intent. Whether this is due to the creditor’s decision to ignore notification or whether they simply failed to alert their collectors, the continuing collection process can be very upsetting and demeaning to the person who is genuinely attempting to pay off their debts. In some cases, creditors take on an agitated approach and begin massive campaign of harassment toward the consumer. The world of bill collection can be particularly cut-throat and unscrupulous, and many consumers are quietly enduring harassment because they do not know their rights.
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted to stop abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors. It is vitally important for consumers to understand the laws protecting them against unfair and coercive debt collection methods. According to FDCPA, a debt collector cannot; Telephone you an unreasonable number of times; Telephone you at an unusual time/ unusual place; Disclose information of your debts to third parties; Use profane or other abusive language; contact you after written notification that you do not want to be contacted any further; Claim to be affiliated with any governmental organization; Misrepresent the character, amount or legal status of a debt; Threaten to take any action that cannot be taken legally; Accuse you having committed a crime; Threaten or communicate false credit information; Attempt to collect, until he honors your request to validate; Use deceptive methods to collect debts; Call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.; Call you, but not announce who he/she is.
If you feel you are victim of an abusive or harassing debt collector you should:
(1) Find out if the collector is violating the FDCPA or your state’s laws. If so, send the collector a certified letter, return receipt requested, telling them that you believe he is in violation of the FDCPA or your state’s laws; and, if you want:
(2) Tell the debt collector that he must stop calling you at home and at work.
(3) You can file a complaint online at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC is the body in charge of regulating debt collection agencies. They will not handle your case personally, but you should report the agency anyway, since they will sanction the agency if it receives enough complaints from consumers.
(4) Report the activity to your State Attorney General’s office. They will investigate the matter.
(5) You can also gather evidence by recording phone conversations with the debt collection agency. This way you’ll be able to prove the debt collector used illegal tactics, you can sue for damages under the FDCPA.
Finally, always remember – Knowledge Is Power. The more you know about your rights, the less your creditors will be able to take advantage of you and your money.
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