Know Your Debt Collection Rights to Know If It’s Real

  
     
August 28, 2017

Debt CollectionIt can be frustrating and scary to fall behind in payments on your credit card or other accounts. When the calls from collection agencies start, it adds a new level of stress. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath, learn about what collection agencies can and can’t do, and work to resolve your issues.

The first thing you need to know is that there are rules in place to protect you.

**The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the United States. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when trying to collect on your debts. Anyone who regularly collects debts owed to others is considered a debt collector. This means collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts, and companies that buy debts and then try to collect them are all covered.

The FDCPA applies to personal, family, and household debts, including money you owe on credit cards, auto loans, medical bills, and your mortgage. It does not apply to debts incurred running a business.

Scam artists are calling almost daily trying to intimidate consumers into paying “debts” over the phone. They use several tactics to prey on emotions and to increase a sense of urgency that actual debt collectors are not allowed to use. Please note that when a debt collector calls, they must follow up within five days with a written “validation notice.” This notice must spell out the name of the creditor you owe money to, how much you owe, and how to proceed if you think you don’t owe the money. If the caller cannot or will not supply this to you, they are most likely a con artist and more research is warranted before paying.

WHAT PRACTICES ARE OFF LIMITS FOR DEBT COLLECTORS?

  • Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, use threats of violence or harm; use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
  • False statements. Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. This includes claiming they are attorneys or government representatives and claiming you have committed a crime. Debt collectors may also NOT say that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt or that legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action. They may also not send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it isn’t. 
  • Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not deposit a post-dated check early; take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally; or contact you by postcard.


FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Visit the FTC’s website for more information on the FDCPA at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection. Also they have a great debt collection video to watch that can help you understand your legal rights, and maybe lower your stress level! You can watch on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqzAFQ67t0M.

FOR BBB INFORMATION:
Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam with Scam Tracker, read tips, follow us on social media, and more!