Consumers' Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
January 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In this economy, it is not difficult to fall behind on finances. A report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes that credit card debt rose dramatically in 2012. In fact, TransUnion reports that borrowers had an average of $4,996 in debt as of the third quarter of last year. If you are behind in paying your bills, you may start to receive incessant calls from debt collectors who collect on debts owed to others. However, while you may need to address your outstanding debts, you still have important rights, which must be honored in accordance with the law.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect from you. The FDCPA covers family, personal and household debts, including money owed on a personal credit card account, medical bill, auto loan and mortgage. On the other hand, the Act does not cover debts you incurred while running a business.
Under the Act, debt collectors may not contact you at inconvenient times, before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m, without your permission. They also cannot reach you at inconvenient places. For example, you should not receive calls at work -- especially if you tell them not to call you at that location.
If an attorney is representing you regarding your outstanding balances, debt collectors must contact the lawyer and not you. If you are not legally represented, they can contact others; however, only for the purpose of receiving your contact information. Generally, they cannot contact another person more than once as this might be harassing the third party. Furthermore, they should not discuss your financial circumstances with anyone other than you, your spouse or your legal representative.
Once they get in contact with you, debt collectors must send you a written "validation notice" informing you of exactly how much money you owe. This should be done within five days after they first contact you. The notice should include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money.
Debt collectors cannot harass you or any third parties under any circumstances. For example, they may not use threats of violence or harm. You should not receive nagging phone calls on a regular basis. Furthermore, debt collectors are prohibited from using obscene or profane language when talking to you. Most importantly, they must keep your debt issues private and cannot threaten to expose your personal information. Debt collectors may only share financial information with credit reporting agencies.
Ultimately, if debt collectors contact you, you may want to talk to them to see if you can resolve the matter directly. If you do not want them to contact you again, you may demand in writing that they leave you alone. However, if you do so, they may call to inform you that creditors intend to take a specific action against you.
You also have the option of bankruptcy protection. An attorney can help you file bankruptcy papers with the court, and this will stop contact from debt collectors.
If you are drowning in debt, you may benefit from professional help. An attorney can represent you in your financial struggle and help ensure that your rights are protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.