Today, we have a guest post from Domenic Holme:
While it’s a less than ideal situation, sometimes we find ourselves with our resources stretched thin. When that happens, it’s easy to slip into debt and when that debt isn’t repaid is not uncommon that a debt collection agency becomes involved. Sometimes these agencies are an internal office belonging to the owed entity, or it may be a third party agency, hired by the owed entity.
No matter the source of the debt collection, it’s critical to be prepared. If you are contacted by a debt collector, you don’t want to over-react. Yes, being contacted by a debt collector can be stressful, embarrassing, and make you feel vulnerable, but keeping your cool can make things much easier, especially as you communicate with the collector.
What do you communicate? First, you want to verify the identity of the collector. Who is he working for? A first party? A third? Where is he located? Second, have them confirm the debt. The collector must provide proof—in writing—the details of the debt. Third, record everything. If possible, and legally it is possible, deal with the collector in writing. Have them send everything to you via the Post Office. That way you have dates and details and in the event of fraud, an error, or any other issue, you have proof to protect yourself.
On the topic of protection, consumers have a specific series of protection when it comes to debt collectors. When people think of debt collectors, they often think of harassing, irritating individuals who call at all hours or show up and beat at the door. While there are those more ardent debt collectors, this usually isn’t the case, since debtors are offered a modicum of protection with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Generally speaking, the FDCPA grants legal protections by spelling out rules for debt collectors designed to reduce abuse of debtors.
SOME PROTECTIONS STATED IN THE FDCPA:
Phone hours – debt collectors must adhere to specific hours when contacting debtors. The hours are 8:00 am to 9:00 pm (local time). Essentially, as the act puts it, any time that is “inconvenient to the consumer.” Additionally, collectors are not permitted continuous or repetitive calling.
Communication cease and desist – debtors can write a cease and desist letter to the debt collector. After the collector receives the written notice, there are still limited circumstances in which the collector can contact the debtor, including notifying the debtor that they are no longer pursuing collection. Again, this cease and desist letter must be in written format and this doesn’t apply to communication directly related to litigation.
Misrepresentation – The collector under no circumstances may represent himself in a “misleading” or “deception” fashion. This misrepresentation can include altering the status or amount of the debt or lying about the collector’s status, affiliation, or relationship to any other party (such as the original collector if third party debt collector is involved).
Threatening legal action – Unless, of course, legal action can or will be taken. Otherwise, it falls under misrepresentation.
You can see the entire FDCPA here at the Federal Trade Commission’s official website.
Attorney Chirnese L. Liverpool and her supportive staff are committed to helping clients through the sometimes overwhelming process of filing for bankruptcy. We provide personalized assistance and dedicate as much time as needed to help you obtain relief from the burden of your debt. To find out how we can help you, contact the Law Offices of Chirnese L. Liverpool at (818) 714-2200 today for a free initial phone consultation.
Domenic Holme is a finance specialist and freelance blogger who specializes in debt consolidation and debt relief.