Debt Collection and Your Rights

March 28, 2011

Debt collectors can be ruthless. Persistent telephone calls at home and work, embarrassing letters in red envelopes, calls to friends and family, and even public posts to your Facebook account are all dirty tactics that debt collectors employ to harass you into paying. Fortunately, there are laws that protect you from unlawful creditor harassment.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is a federal law that protects against abusive collection practices by third party collectors. Third party collectors include collection agencies and collection attorneys. The FDCPA does not apply to business debts or to original creditors. The FDCPA prohibits certain abusive practices including:

* Telephone calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (your time);
* Requesting payment beyond what is actually owed;
* Using abusive, profane or obscene language;
* Threatening legal action which is not permitted by law (e.g. criminal action);
* Telephone calls at work after being instructed that your employer prohibits phone calls
from debt collectors;
* Contacting you directly after being instructed that you are represented by an attorney

Another federal protection is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer credit reports. The FCRA contains a dispute process for correcting inaccurate information placed on your credit report. More information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection website. The FTC is charged with enforcement of both acts.

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney provides immediate relief from creditor harassment under the FDCPA, and all collection action must cease the instant you file a bankruptcy case. This protection lasts the duration of your bankruptcy and is replaced with the bankruptcy discharge at the end of your case. A creditor who violates these bankruptcy prohibitions can face a contempt of court charge in the federal bankruptcy court.

Don’t let creditor harassment overwhelm your life. Take charge by consulting an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your debt and learn how the federal and state laws can protect your property, your income, and your peace of mind. 

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