The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Primer

If you are drowning in debt, shark-like behavior on the behalf of collection agencies can be intimidating at its very best. If you feel like fresh chum for predatory creditors keep in mind that even if you owe money, you are entitled to fair and respectful treatment by those who have been dispatched to requisition payment, as per the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. While the FDCPA applies to most personal debts such as medical bills, mortgages, loans and credit card bills, it does not include business debt.

Debtors Have Rights

While companies may pursue payments owed by consumers, laws have been put in place to protected consumers from being “unreasonably harassed.” Those attempting to collect on unpaid debts may not invade your privacy, issue threats against you, harass you, make false statements or outright lie during the course of their efforts.

You Can Restrict The Times During Which Collectors Can Contact You

If you issue a request in writing or over the phone that you not be contacted while you are at work, collectors must uphold it. Also, unless you grant them permission, collectors cannot call your before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. So hopefully, they shouldn’t be waking you up.

The Burden of Proof Rests on the Collectors

The FDCPA requires debt collectors to send you a written validation notice of the debt within five days from the time they first contact you, which includes the name of the creditor, detailing how much you owe.

If Something Seems Fishy, Ask For Verification

You have to option to dispute in writing any debt you feel that you do not owe, as long as you write the creditor and request verification within 30 days of when you were first informed of the debt.

If You Need A Minute To Think, Ask For One

You cannot be forced to respond immediately to a debt collector’s call. Ask him or her to call you back in an hour so that you may gather your thoughts and assemble information. You can write to formally request that they cease and desist from contacting you at all, but be forewarned that this does not make your debt go away. Should you not make an effort to settle what you owe, your debt may be sent to a law firm, thereby escalating collections.

Solicit Help

If you are saddled with debt that you cannot pay, investigate what options are available to you. Debt consolidation, credit counseling or debt resolution may be helpful avenues for you to pursue.

Keep Meticulous Records

Keep every scrap of correspondence pertaining to your debt. Keep records of everything you pay, and know that, as per the FDCPA, you shouldn’t ever pay a debt until you receive written notice of the amount due.

Once you rid yourself of pesky outstanding debt, you can employ the careful use of best credit offers  to begin repairing your credit score and reestablish yourself as a creditworthy consumer.

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