Earlier this month, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau vowed to crack down on unfair debt collection practices. The announcement followed on the heels of a fine levied by the FTC against a debt collection agency  for its unfair and illegal practices. Between the record fine of $3.2 million, and the announcement that the CFPB is about to get really serious about cracking down, it’s even more important than ever that consumers know their rights as debtors.
While the argument can be made that those in debt should repay what they owe , it also doesn’t seem right that those in debt should be subjected to harassment. In some cases, debtors are trying to put together a plan to pay down debt , and the constant nagging from debt collectors doesn’t help.
If you are in debt, and collectors are starting to hound you, know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Your Rights under the FDCPA
First of all, it’s important to note that, for the most part, the FDCPA applies to third party debt collectors . First part debt collectors (your creditors) can bend some of the rules a bit when it comes to trying to get back what they owe. However, once the account is turned over to collections, things change a little bit. A collection agency is restricted in what it can do in the quest to encourage you to make good. Here are some of the things you should know about your protections:
- Debt collectors cannot call before 8 am local time or after 9 pm local time — unless you give them permission. This means no early morning or late night calls.
- Your debt should not be discussed with others; only you or your designated representative should be in the conversation about your debt. While debt collectors can ask others for information about your whereabouts and how to reach you, they can’t talk about your debt to them.
- If you tell debt collectors that personal calls are not allowed at work, they have to refrain from contacting you at your place of employment.
- You can ask debt collectors to stop contacting you. You have to do it in writing. Once you do, they have to stop trying to get you to pay your debt in this way. Send the request certified mail so you know the agency received it. After getting this notice, the collection agency can contact you only when ready for legal action.
- You have the right to tell debt collectors to work with your representative/attorney rather than contact you.
- Debt collectors shouldn’t lie about who they are to get you to come to the phone, or lie and say you can be arrested for debt (you can’t be).
- Debt collectors are’t supposed to threaten you or use profanity when talking to you. They can’t threaten to use legal measures to collect the debt unless they are actually preparing to initiate these methods.
- You have the right to receive a validation notice detailing what you owe, and who you owe it to. You can write a dispute letter  if you feel the debt is not yours.
You have rights under the law. The CFPB is cracking down, and so is the FTC. You can report violations to both of those agencies, and even sue debt collectors  who violate the law.
(Photo: debomb1 )