Dealing with a collection agency can be an arduous task. Many people recount their experience talking to a collection agency’s customer representative as unpleasant; especially when it seems like the calls will never end, or that your debt payment will never be complete.
A debt collection agency is an organization that is employed by lenders, creditors, or anybody that issues a loan to an individual or small business. These debt collection organizations usually step in to recover loan funds that are already overdue or owned by a borrower whose account is in default.
There have been countless harassment claims made by borrowers against companies such as these. Borrowers have claimed that many debt collection organizations use unethical means which go against their consumer rights under acts like the FDCPA in bid to get borrowers to pay back loans fast. Many people have claimed that collection officers from debt collection organizations are rude, persistent in calling (even after they have been expressly told to desist from making calls to a particular client), and ignorant of consumer right laws. For this reason, it is important for consumers to know their rights and have access to useful information about handling debt collection organizations.
Here are the top 15 things you should be aware of when you are speaking to debt collection organizations.
- Your rights
Even though a debt collection organization may be within their rights to request for debts owed by you, it is also important to remember that you too have rights protected by acts like the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). These laws not only protect you but also governing how a debt collection organization is and is not allowed to act. You have a right to request not to be contacted again; you can also dispute a debt within 30 days of initial contact with a debt collection organization.
- The expiration date of your debt
The statute of limitations on your debt can expire. This means that debt collectors only have a certain amount of time during which they can sue you over unpaid debt. In most states, this is four-six years after the last payment was made on your account.
You should be wary of the expiration date on debts because it is possible for an old account to be resold.
- The legitimacy of the debt collection organization
The fact that consumer rights laws prohibit debt collection organizations from making anonymous calls to consumers is enough reason to verify a debt collection organization’s name, contact address, telephone number, and any other vital information.
There are a lot of scammers calling with false information about non-existent loans; therefore, it is doubly important to be warier.
- A written copy of the debt statement
You are entitled to a written copy of the statement of whatever debts a collection agency claims that you owe. It may surprise you to know that the FDCPA stipulates that a collector must send a consumer a written statement in which details of the loan they owe is contained. This must be sent to you within five days of them contacting you. The statement is the starting point in determining whether or not the account they speak of is legitimate, and it must include the name of the original creditor and the exact amount of money you owe.
- The temperament of the organization’s representative
If a debt collector is rude to you or uses profane language, then you are entitled to file a harassment suit against the debt collection organization under the collection practices act. It is also illegal for debt collection organizations to make threats of arrest, violence or a lawsuit against you. This holds especially if the threats made are empty and the debt collector has no intention of carrying them out.
- The number of calls
If a collector calls you too frequently in a day (especially after you expressly stated your desire not to be contacted again), you may be able to file a case of harassment against the debt collection organization. If you win, you could be awarded a settlement or have your debt waved altogether.
- The time of calls
The FDCPA states that debt collection organizations are not allowed to contact you before the hours of 8:am in the morning and 9:pm at night. If your debt collector has been violating this right, then they are seriously out of line.
- Restarting the loan clock by acquiescing too quickly
It is possible to restart the clock on a loan which carries an expired statute of limitations by paying part of the debt or even by simply agreeing over the phone that the debt is yours. If a debt collection organization calls you with information about an outstanding loan, it is important to get all the details before agreeing to pay the debt.
- Interest rates on your loan
The law permits debt collection organizations to charge interest on a loan. However, the interest charged cannot exceed the original amount stipulated in your contract with the original creditor. This is why it is very important to know the interest rates on your loan.
- A debt is non-transferable
If you haven’t cosigned on a loan agreement with any party, then you can not inherit their debt in the event of their death. These sorts of loans are usually taken out of the deceased’s estate, so there is no cause to be alarmed.
- Negotiation options
Since debt collection organizations buy debt for interest on every dollar, they often don’t require you to pay the full amount to turn a profit; this makes them open to negotiations.
- Your debt can not land you in jail
The law does not permit a debt collection organization to arrest you over a debt alone. If a debt collector keeps making threats of jail time when they call you, you may be able to have a case of harassment filed against the organization.
- It is possible to get sued if…
A debt collection organization can sue you if the statute of limitations has not expired on a loan that you are contesting or unable to pay.
- Court dates and defaulted payments
If you fail to show up in court on the day of your hearing, the court will either issue a warrant for your arrest or have your accounts garnished. This is the only time that an outstanding debt can land you in jail. Cutting contact with a debt collector will also not make the loan disappear.
- Garnishment laws
When the court grants permission for a debt collection organization to garnish your account, it simply means that the debt collector has the right to take money out of your bank account. The amount can vary depending on the laws in your state of residence. It is wise to seek legal advice from a consumer attorney regarding the garnishment laws in your state.
About this site (Telephone Harassment)
Here are Telephone Harassment, we are all about informing consumers about their rights regarding harassment from debt collectors, collection law firms and Original lenders. We also encourage consumers to share their experience dealing with collection harassment, legal threats or excessive phone calls to help prepare others for the kind of treatment they are likely to receive. We alert consumers of scams, and notify them about the harassment and scare tactics that many collection agencies employ, many of which are against phone harassment laws.
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