What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do
No one is perfect when it comes to personal finances and even an innocent mistake can lead to debt collections. If you have ever had the pleasure of dealing with a debt collector, you might be familiar with some of the tactics they use to get you to pay the money owed. What you might be surprised about is that not all of these tactics are legal.
On the Federal level, debt collection is governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and these rules are enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Debt collectors who break these rules can be subject to an enforcement action and/or private lawsuit.
Debt collectors do have a lot of flexibility in their strategies. They are allowed to contact you by phone, mail, fax and even in person. They are also allowed to inquire about you and your current contact information with loved ones. But, they can only discuss the debt with you and/or your attorney representative and no one else. When they are discussing the debt with you they are only permitted to disclose the amount of the debt, who the original creditor was and attempt to negotiate a settlement. Anything outside these parameters could lead to liability.
Even though many collectors engage in illegal conduct anyway, there are many things that they are prohibited from doing. Most of these tactics include either deception or harassment. Debt collectors are not allowed to mislead you into paying a debt. This means that they cannot pretend to be someone they are not. For instance, they cannot tell you that they are an attorney unless they are one. When asked to identify themselves, they must be truthful. They also cannot misinform you of the nature of the debt and the potential consequences of not paying. For example they cannot threaten criminal penalties for non-payment. In addition, they are not allowed to use profanity in their communications or threaten physical injury. They are also not allowed to call you an excessive number of times a day or outside the hours of 8am to 9pm. While this behavior does not always lead to liability, it becomes a problem when the debt collector intends to harass the debtor using these tactics.
If you have been subjected to any of the above and believe you have been the victim of illegal debt collection practices, it is important that you document the circumstances in detail. It is also in your best interest to contact a seasoned debtor protection attorney such as those at the California law firm Fitzgerald Campbell. Call (855)709-5788 for a consultation today.