Being in debt is already stressful enough. Getting hounded by debt collectors and creditors as if you no longer have rights makes it even more so.
But just because you are in debt does not mean that you no longer have rights when your creditors come knocking on your door for payment. In fact, your rights as consumers are codified in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The FDCPA protects consumers from unfair debt collection practices, and violation of any of these laws can have legal ramifications for debt collectors. If you know these rights, you don’t have to suffer from abusive practices.
Debt collectors can’t call you before 8a.m. or after 9p.m.
There is only an allowed time when debt collectors can contact you during the day. They may not call you before 8 in the morning, or after 9 in the evening. Understandably, these hours are too early and too late for someone to get bugged about financial matters. If a debt collector does this to you, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Debt collectors may not tell anyone that you owe money
Some debt collectors would use all means to reach you. If they can’t reach you directly, some may contact your family, friends, and even co-workers. However, they are not allowed to tell any of them that you owe money. They may not also disclose that they work for a debt collection agency because that would suggest that they are trying to reach you because of debt.
They can’t lie or misrepresent your actual debt amount
Debt collectors are only allowed to collect up to the full amount of your debt and nothing more than that. If they try to lie in hopes of collecting more or creating a sense of urgency and panic, that is a clear violation of the FDCPA law.
In an effort to create a sense of urgency (and panic) in you, some debt collectors even use deceptive strategies to get you to pay your debt as soon as possible. These ‘deceptive’ practices include:
Pretending to be someone working for law enforcement agencies – Some would even take it to a whole new level by dressing up as police officers just to scare you. That may work to some but the truth is that you can’t get arrested just like that. And in the first place, you can’t go to jail just because of credit card debts. If debt collectors say otherwise, you know they’re lying and you can use that as grounds for lawsuit.
Threaten to seize your properties or garnish your wages – Unless they have a court order to do so, which by the way requires a legal process, debt collectors can’t just seize your properties or garnish your wages.
These are just some of the practices that are not allowed under the FDCPA. You might think that these tactics don’t work anymore but there are still reports of debt collectors doing these today. If you sense that a debt collector is crossing the line, never be scared to file a complaint with the FTC. Knowing your rights are one thing; actually claiming them is another.