Monday, September 28, 2009

Five Things You Need to Know About Debt Collectors' Rights

By Sean Payne

If you still owe money on debts, you may already know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also called the FDCPA, says that you have the right to demand that debt collectors use certain ethical debt collection practices.

The FDCPA specifies exactly when debt collectors can contact you, how they can do it, and what they can tell you in order to collect on a debt. One example is that a bill collector can't tell you a lie or misrepresent the truth about your debt. The FDCPA was created after a long string of debt collectors abusing people to collect on debt. What you probably don't know about the FDCPA, however, is that even bill collectors have rights.

The first is that they have the right to communicate with you to let you know that you owe a debt. They can communicate with you via telephone or by letter. In this phone call or letter, they can tell you exactly how much you owe, including any fees or penalties.

Second, they have the right to contact you until you let them know in writing that you don't owe them money, that you don't owe as much as they say, or that you demand that they provide verification that you owe the debt. Of course, under the FDCPA, they're limited in when and how they can communicate with you, but if they stay within the rules of the FDCPA, they can keep contacting you until you tell them to stop.

Third, if that debt collector is actually the creditor to whom the money is owed, or an in-house agency owned by the creditor, they can continue to contact you even if you request that they stop contacting you. This is because the FDCPA does not recognize creditors as debt collectors, so they are not subject to the same rules as collectors are. Of course, they still have to abide by the rules of decent behavior outlined in the law, such as not harassing people you know, or calling at all hours of the night.

Fourth, they have the right to contact other people about your debt, but only once, and only to find out your address, your phone number, or where you work. However, they are prohibited from contacting a third party more than once. Any more than that can constitute harassment.

Lastly, debt collectors have the right to sue you in court to collect a debt from you. Of course, you can defend yourself in court, but if the judge decides against you, you may have your wages garnished to repay the debt.

When dealing with debt collectors, make sure that you know your rights under the law. But also make sure that you know the rights that the law gives to debt collectors. This knowledge can help you to better deal with them when and if they become a problem.

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