Are you inundated with calls from creditors? When you fall behind on bills the calls often start and it’s critical you know your rights. An important resource is the Federal Trade Commission’s website which includes a copy of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Calling an experienced attorney is a useful tool when it comes to interpreting and understanding laws, but here are a few main takeaways.
A debt collector is not permitted to:
1. Use Language and/or symbols on an envelope’s exterior that shows they are in the debt collection business or attempting to collect a debt.
2. Mail correspondence via postcard.
3. Contact you before 8:00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M. unless you grant them permission.
4. Telephone or send you a letter at work if you tell them not to.
5. Approach you during unusual times or an unusual/inconvenient locations.
6. Threaten you with violence or physical harm (applies to your person or your property).
7. Threaten your reputation.
8. Leave a voice mail message if you share a phone or answering machine with other people.
9. Use obscenities or bad language.
10. Publish your name on lists, except to a consumer reporting agency.
11. Call you numerous times to annoy, abuse, or harass you.
12. Misrepresent or advise you incorrectly regarding the amount of debt you owe.
13. Falsely state or imply they are an attorney or lie about who they are.
14. Use deceptive means to collect the debt (i.e. disguise who they are or their purpose of calling).
Options to stop a debt collector from contacting you:
1. Notify them in writing via certified mail that you no longer wish to be contacted. This should end further communication, but you may receive notification if they decide to take you to court.
2. Hire an attorney and then request debt collectors contact that attorney directly.
3. File a bankruptcy petition, which will implement an automatic stay. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 will both implement an automatic stay that will prohibit creditors from calling you otherwise they may face sanctions. If you are located in Arizona, please call us at 602-456-6085 and we’ll be happy to off you a free consultation in order to look into every type of bankruptcy option available to you.
4. If you decide not to hire an attorney, reach out to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to report the violation.