If you are trying to get back on track with your personal finances, but you have debt, one of the more discouraging things can be debt collectors. The good news, though, is that you have rights, and there are ways to deal with debt collectors. One of the first steps to protecting yourself from debt collectors, insists Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, is to know what you have in terms of consumer rights.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
You have some very specific rights under the FDCPA. Here are some of the things that a debt collector cannot do:
- Call before 8 am or after 9 pm.
- Harass you after you ask them to stop calling (you have to write a letter). Note that this does not make the debt go away; the collector can still sue to try and get repayment.
- Use profanity.
- Imply that you will be arrested (or that you are committing a crime) if you fail to pay the debt.
- Publish a list of consumers who are not paying debts (they can notify credit bureaus, however).
- Misrepresent your debt.
Debt collectors are required to send you proof of your debt, as well as the total charges and spell out what you owe, and indicate fees and interest charges.
For more information on your rights with regard to debt collectors, the FTC offers a great FAQ.