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If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a "debtor." As a debtor you are expected to meet the terms of your contract and make your payments on time. If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your account, your creditor may turn your account over to a "debt collector."
Fallacies regarding debts and debt collectors or collection agencies are:
If your delinquent account has been turned over to a third party collector, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection. The act is designed to curtail unfair, abusive, or outrageous practices and tactics by third party collectors. It does not forbid collection contacts or collection efforts nor curtail legitimate activities.
A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. However, a debt collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves.
Can You Stop A Debt Collector From Contacting You?
You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to indicate that a certain specific action is about to take place.
If you have an attorney, the debt collector may not contact any person other than your attorney unless there is no response from the attorney within a reasonable time. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector is not permitted to tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.
If you dispute the debt in writing within thirty days of the initial contact, collection activities must cease until the debt is versified.
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person.
They may not:
Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt.
They may not:
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is "self-enforcing," meaning there is no agency to enforce the Act.
You can sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. The Act provides for recovery of attorneys fees plus actual and punitive damages and court costs in the event that the consumer prevails up to $1,000. Class actions are also possible under the Act with damages of the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of net worth.