Debt Collector Tricks That Violate the Fair Debt Collection Act
THE BILLS ARE ALL DUE . . .
There is an old country song that goes something like this, the bills are all due and the babies need shoes and I’m busted. Money troubles are a common burden for most of us, but what happens when money troubles morph into debt collectors? Then, fear and anxiousness sets in and you avoid the mailbox and phone like the plague. What can you do?
WHAT IS THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION ACT?
The Fair Debt Collection Act is a federal law that outlines how debt collectors can behave. The key word is debt collectors. If you owe money to a local business then the business owner can call you and ask for payment. The owner would not be considered a debt collector. This act is specifically for debt collectors who word for collection agencies. It mainly protects consumers from harassment in the form of threats, arrest or bodily harm if you don’t pay. These collectors cannot imply they represent law enforcement. This act was meant to promote fair debt collection.
FOUR COMMON TRICKS THAT DEBT COLLECTORS PRACTICE.
- Telling you by phone or sending you a letter that your original debt has been inflated. You should have a contract stating the interest rate you agreed to. Most states have laws preventing agencies from increasing interest rates because you did not pay the debt. Additionally, most states have an interest rate cap that debt agencies can charge. Also, in your contract there should be an outline of fees that are charged. The agency cannot charge more fees than you agreed to pay. Inflating debt is an unfair practice and you should be protected by laws, but ignoring the debt is not the answer.
- The main trick debt collectors use is harassment and fortunately this is the focus of the fair debt collections act. Debt collectors cannot call you repeatedly and cannot use scare tactics on family members or friends that answer the phone. There is a $500 to $1500 fine for each phone call after you tell the debt collector to only contact you by mail. Documentation is your best defense and so keep all recorded conversations from your answering machine and write down the date, time, and a summary of your conversation. Even though it is hard, do not lose your temper, cuss, or call the debt collector names.
- Debt collectors cannot threaten you by falsely accusing you of committing a crime. The words, “throwing you in jail” are scary, but remember in the United States we do not have a debtor’s prison. With that said, not paying your debt is considered a civil law violation. In this instance civil law takes care of business contracts, estates, and everything else related to legal issues that are not criminal. Debt collectors do not have the authority to tell you or anyone in your family that they can send you to jail if you do not pay.
- Debt collectors cannot “shame” the customer into paying money owed by publishing the names of people who owe their agency. A new tactic of debt collectors is Facebook. If you have debt collectors in your life be careful of what you are posting on Facebook. This is a gray area in the Fair Debt Collections Act, but is becoming more relevant daily.
WHAT ARE DEBT HARASSMENT ATTORNEYS?
A debt harassment attorney is a trained lawyer that becomes an advocate for their clients who are experiencing harassment from debt collection agencies. They walk clients through the best possible outcomes and help to explain the process. There are many debt harassment lawyers with experience in debt settlement. A debt harassment attorney should advise you in making the best decision with the least amount of credit rating effects.
IN A NUTSHELL
Debt collectors do not have the right to harass, scare, or threaten you. Considering a debt harassment attorney can be an alternative if you are unsure of your legal rights. Hopefully, you will never be in a position in which you need the legal services of a debt collection harassment attorney, but in the event that you do, please give Hoag Law Firm a call or complete your online Free Case Evaluation. A free consultation can help you understand your rights. With honest advice and an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney at your side, you can recover the largest possible settlement and get back to living your life.