Debt collectors are regulated by numerous state
and federal laws in their debt collection activities. Most people know that
debt collectors cannot abuse them on the phone or in writing--what many people
don't know is that they have a lot of other legal rights, too. For example, a
debt collector cannot call you at work if they know that your employer prohibits
it. Debt collectors cannot tell others about your debts, like your neighbor or
your co-worker. Debt collectors cannot threaten to have you arrested if you do
not pay your debts. These are just a few of the numerous protections you have
as a consumer.
Please click here to contact our office if you
debt collection harassment.
Important Steps You Should Take
1. Save copies of
all letters from collection agencies.
2. Save all voice mail messages from bill
3. Take notes of your conversations with the
debt collector, including the date, time, telephone number, and name of the
collector. Use a
Collection Communications Log
to make notes.
4. Send a dispute and verification letter to
the debt collector by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Here's a sample
5. Send a cease communication letter to the
debt collector by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Here's a sample
Cease Communication Letter.
the Valentine Legal Group
Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA")
The deck is stacked against consumers with
sophisticated debt collection tactics. As a consumer, you should not hesitate
to protect yourself and exercise your rights under the
FDCPA. The FDCPA prohibits any collection effort which violates any law. That
means, amongst other things, a collector must be
respectful to you and cease communicating with you when you have a lawyer.
We firmly believe that everyone should pay
their debts. However, we also believe that no debt
collector ought to violate your rights to get payment. It's that simple. Your
right to fair and legal debt collection activity cannot take a back seat to any
debt collector's violation of state and federal law.
Who is Covered: Some Definitions
Consumer. Any person who is alleged to
owe a consumer debt.
Debt Collectors. According to the FDCPA,
a debt collector is any person, other than the original
creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others.
Covered Debts. Any debt that is
primarily for personal, family, or household purposes is covered under the FDCPA.
Business and commercial debts are not covered.
How a Debt Collector Can Communicate With You
Communications Generally. A debt
collector may communicate with you by mail, in person, by telephone or telegram.
A debt collector cannot contact you at times or in places that they know are
inconvenient to you, such as at work if your employer does not permit it. A debt
collector cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Stopping Communications. If you send a
written request to a debt collector demanding that they stop contacting you, the
debt collector must stop contact immediately, but they may send one last
communication to you advising you that they intend to take a specific action
against you including filing a lawsuit.
Attorney Representation. If you are
represented by an attorney concerning a consumer debt, the
debt collector cannot communicate directly with you. They must communicate with
you through your lawyer.
Contacting Others. A debt collector has
a right to contact other people in an effort to locate you. Debt collectors are
not permitted to tell family, friends or neighbors
that they are attempting to collect a debt from you.
30-Day Validation Notice Requirements.
Within five days after you are first contacted, a debt collector must send you
written notice telling you the following:
The amount of the debt.
The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.
A statement that unless you, within 30 days after
receipt of the notice, dispute the validity of the debt, the debt will be
assumed to be valid by the debt collector.
A statement that if you notify
the debt collector in writing, within the
30 day period, that the debt
is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt
and mail it to you.
Finally, a statement that the communication is from a debt collector attempting
to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that
Rights While Debt Under Dispute. If you
dispute a debt in writing within the 30 day validation
period, a debt collector cannot continue to collect on the debt until they have
sent you proof of the debt.
What a Debt Collector is Prohibited From Doing to
Collection Fees Prohibited. A debt
collector may not charge you interest, fees, or collection charges, except those
amounts that were authorized by the original agreement.
Harassment Prohibited. A debt
collector may not use any language, communication or conduct to harass or abuse
any person. This includes prohibitions on:
Use of threats of violence or harm to the person, property, or reputation.
Using obscene or profane
Repeatedly use the telephone to
annoy someone or ring the telephone constantly.
Calling people without
False Statements Prohibited. A debt
collector may not use any false statements when trying to collect a debt. This
implying that they are an attorney or government representative.
implying that you have committed a crime by not paying a debt.
representing that they operate or work for a credit bureau.
the character, amount, or legal status of the debt.
Threats Prohibited. A debt collector
may not use threats when trying to collect a debt. This includes threats like
will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.
will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the
collection agency or the creditor intends to do so and they have the right to do
Unfairness Prohibited. A debt
collector may not treat you unfairly in attempting to collect a debt. This
includes unfairness like the following:
any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law.
a post-dated check in order threaten criminal prosecution or threaten to cash
the check early.
or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally, including
wrongfully repossessing your vehicle.
We Can Help
Our firm primarily works with consumers whose
rights have been violated under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, and other consumer protection
statutes. Please click here to contact our office if you
abuse by a debt collector.