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Week 3: Debt
Today’s Easy Financial Task: Understand your rights
How to rock this task:
- There are a bunch of laws that protect you from law-breaking debt collectors
- These laws are called The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA)
- Learn your rights and review the FDCPA laws at www.ftc.gov (search FDCPA)
Did you know that there is a set of laws that protects you from debt collectors? Yes! Owing money does not give anyone the right to be abusive to you. Today, I want you to arm yourself with knowledge. Once you know what debt collectors are and are not allowed to do and say, you won’t be afraid to pick up the phone again.
In fact, once you review The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act laws, the next time a debt collector breaks one of them while interacting with you, say “You’ve just violated The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. If you continue to do so I will report you to my state Attorney General’s office (www.naag.org) and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).”
If your debt collector is stubborn and continues to break the law, research the web for a Debt Lawyer. A lawyer may be able to get the offending debt collection agency to pay you a fine and pay your lawyer’s legal fees too!
The purpose of the FDCPA: to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy.
(Thompson Hall Santi Cerny & Katkov | Aaron Hall )
Here are the laws in a nutshell from the government site, www.ftc.gov.
The FDCPA restricts debt collectors from engaging in conduct including the following:
– Contacting a third party who does not owe the debt, such as your relative, neighbor, or employer. Co-signers to the debt, however, may be contacted by the debt collector.
-Threatening to refer your account to an attorney, harm your credit rating, repossess or garnish, without actual intention of action on the threat. Please note that a debt collector may warn you of an actual impending intention to refer your case to an attorney or to report your debt to a credit agency. What they cannot do is use a false threat to try to intimidate you into paying.
– Making telephone calls at unreasonable times. The act defines unreasonable times as contact before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM, unless you have given the debt collector permission to contact you during those hours.
– Placing telephone calls to an inconvenient place. For example, contacting you at work in violation of a policy by your employer that is known to the debt collector or following a request by you that they not contact you at work. When placing a telephone call to you at work, informing your employer of the purpose of the call, unless first asked by the employer.
– Communicating with you if you notify a debt collector in writing that you refuse to pay a debt or that you wish the debt collector to cease further communication with you. The debt collector shall not communicate further with you with respect to such debt, except to advise you that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated or that further specific action is being taken.
– Using obscenity, racial slurs, or insults.
– Sending letters which appear to have come from a court.
– Seeking collection fees or interest charges not permitted by your contract or by state law.
– Requesting post-dated checks with the intention to prosecute if they bounce.
– Suing in courts far removed from your place of residence.
– Making certain false representations in association with efforts to collect the debt, including the false claim that the person contacting you in relation to the debt is an attorney, falsely claiming to have started a lawsuit, using a false name, or using stationery that is designed to look like an official court or government communication.
– Using false claims to collect information about you, such as pretending to be conducting a survey.
– Threatening you with arrest if you do not pay the debt.
Also, remember that debt can expire. Google your state’s Statute of Limitations on specific debt, like credit card and medical debt,
Finally, if a debt collector calls you and DOES NOT want to provide their name, number, company address, etc. (so you can send a written request for a validation letter), don’t remain on the phone with them.
Often companies want to confirm your name, address, telephone (even though they’re calling you); social security, employer, income etc.
DO NOT GIVE UP ALL THIS INFO ABOUT YOURSELF. Again, the only thing you should be giving up is your name and you can confirm your number.
If they do not want to give any information about themselves and their company, you can say, “I do not discuss financial matters over the phone, please mail me this information so that I can review.”
Collection representatives are trained to push buttons. They will state they are considering suing you to garnish your wages, that they don’t have to mail you anything, that they would rather solve this issue now; it can even get much nastier than this. I’m hoping you don’t encounter one of these kinds of reps. If this is the case, inform them
- Do not call you anymore while at work, your employer does not allow personal call; feel free to mail me this information.
- Do not call me at this number again, please mail me this information.
This is legal to do. It’s important that you KNOW YOUR RIGHTS and what debt collectors can and cannot do/say when attempting to collect on a debt. Know what you can and cannot do/request when attempting to validate (prove) a debt and/or the company is legit.
If they call, yet again, I would inform them this conversation is being recorded and that you asked them to mail you any information they may have according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Also state that you asked that they not call you at this number, and to limit communications to mail therefore any further communication from you – other than mail – will result in me seeking legal remedies, using this recorded conversation as evidence. They are able to call one more time to confirm they received your request, to inform you they are ceasing collection efforts; to inform you they are suing, see FDCPA sec 805c3.
If they want to confirm your mailing address, ask what address they have on file. If it is the address you are at, confirm it. If it is a mailing address you are no longer at, DO NOT let them send that document to that address with you confirming it’s correct on their recorded conversation with you. There are easier and more legitimate ways to make a collection agency ‘go away’ than being untruthful about your mailing address. Give them an address they can send your mail to. During tomorrow’s task, I’ll show you how to stop the calls.
Helpful? I hope you feel protected against unsavory debt collectors now that you know that the FDCPA offers you protection.
If today’s task has helped you, please share the wealth and pass it along to a friend or family member who’s struggling with debt collectors too.Did you know there are laws to protect you from debt collectors? Day 20 #LIVERICHERChallenge Click To Tweet
Do you feel more empowered? Yes? No? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below & in our LRC Forum.
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