Under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA), all collection agencies and debt collectors who work for collection agencies must obey the following procedures. Only creditors who collect their own debt are exempt.
First Notice - within 5 days of being contacted by an agency, you must be sent a written notice stating the amount of money due and the name of the creditor.
Disputing the debt - within 30 days of first notice you may dispute the claim in writing. The collection agency must then stop all collection efforts until it gives you proof of the debt (validation) - in the form of a contract, invoice, bill or a court judgment. You must also be notified of the original creditor's name, if different from the person who referred your debt to the collection agency. During that time the collection agency has the right to sue you.
In writing, you may tell the collection agency not to call you at work or at home. You may also refuse to pay the debt or demand the collection agency stop contacting you all together. If you make this demand, the collection agency must then stop trying to collect the debt from you.
You may not be contacted by a collection agency if an attorney is representing you in a case related to the debt. You should provide information on how to contact your attorney. However, the collection agency may send you one final notice stating whether it will stop trying to collect the debt or has plans to sue you. If you are sued, you have the right to argue your case in court.
In writing, you may also ask the collection agency for a copy of your payment history. You are entitled to one free copy per year. A $5.00 fee may be charged for any subsequent copies you order.
The CFDCPA does NOT prevent a debt collector from, the following:
-refusing to take a partial payment
-suing you at any time unless you have a payment agreement and are complying with the terms
-adding interest to the debt if permitted by law or contract
-adding information about the debt to your credit report. However, if you dispute the debt, that must be reported as disputed.
Under the CFDCPA laws a debt collector may not
contact you by postcard or use an envelope that shows the sender is a debt collection agency, or that the piece of mail concerns a debt.
A debt collector may not call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. your time. Notify the collector in writing if you find these times inconvenient, but you must state when they may call.
A debt collector may not discuss the debt with those who do not owe it without your consent or by a court order. The debt collector cannot identify themselves as a collector or state they are affiliated with a collection agency unless specifically asked. This means your neighbors and relatives may only be contacted to obtain your address and phone number, but a spouse or co-signor who is also responsible for the debt may be called.
Further, is it unlawful for a debt collector to misrepresent things like amounts owed, any statements, documents or actions against you, or to misrepresent your case when reporting credit. You are protected from being threatened with illegal actions, arrest or committing a crime, and they may not threaten to take or sell your property, garnish your wages, or attach bank accounts unless that action is legal and the collector intends to do it. They cannot deposit a post-dated check before the date on the check, and if the check is post-dated more than 5 days, the collector must inform you in writing no less than 3 days or more than 10 days before the date the check will be deposited. You are free to decide if you want write a post-dated check in the first place.
Be sure to get all agreements with the collection agency signed and in writing. Keep copies of all correspondence, and keep records of all dates and times you are contacted by the collection agency. Get a receipt for all payments, and answer any legal summons and appear at all court hearing. The Collection Agency Board cannot stop court action.
To file a complaint with the Collection Agency Board, go to www.ago.state.co.us/index.cfm and get a copy of the Collection Agency Board complaint form. Complaints cannot be accepted without a signature so fill it out, sign and either mail or fax to them. If you have received a letter from a collection agency, include a copy of the letter.
Also, it has been very common in recent years for criminals to act as debt collectors to try to obtain funds and/or private information. If you believe you have been contacted by a con-artist acting as a collections agent, contact the Collection Agency Board as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Though the FTC does not act to resolve individual consumer complaints, it tracks all complaints received and can potentially use them to bring action against a business or individual.