The repeated phone calls and letters from debt collectors can be enough to drive you up a wall. Just because you owe a creditor money does not give them the right to do whatever they want. The law recognizes this and places certain limits on what debt collectors can do when trying to get in touch with you. Here’s more on debt collectors’ rights and restrictions, and on what you can do if they cross the line.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a law that was created to protect you from the aggressive and illegal methods debt collectors sometimes use in order to collect on an outstanding balance. This law creates restrictions on when and under what circumstances debt collectors can contact you about a debt.

It is important to understand that not every person attempting to get a payment from you is considered a debt collector under the FDCPA. Only third parties who have been hired by an original creditor are considered debt collectors under the law. What this means is that your credit card company calling you about your unpaid balance may not be considered a debt collector and might not be restricted under the FDCPA. However, if your credit card company hires a third party to collect the debt, that collection agency will be considered a debt collector by the FDCPA.

What Can Debt Collectors Do?

Under the FDCPA, it is legal for a debt collector to call you or write letters to you, but with certain restrictions. Calls must be placed between the hours of 8am and 9pm in your time zone. Any calls outside of those times are strictly forbidden by the FDCPA. A debt collector can also call you where you work, unless they have reason to know that your employer does not allow you to receive outside calls. However, they cannot discuss your debt with anyone else who answers the phone.

Debt collectors may contact your friends and family members, but only for the purpose of locating you — they cannot discuss your debt with them. The debt collector must first attempt to contact you based on the information that they have available. If they cannot get in touch with you, only then can they reach out to others who may know your location.

What Can’t A Debt Collector Do?

While they may be allowed to call you at home, a debt collector cannot do so in a way that is harassing or abusive. For example, they cannot call 20 times in a row or let the phone ring indefinitely. They also cannot call you names, use obscene language, or threaten you with imprisonment or physical violence.

The FDCPA places certain restrictions on written communication as well. Debt collectors cannot send you mail that outwardly indicates that they are attempting to collect a debt. This means that they cannot send you a postcard or send you a letter that indicates that they are a debt collector on the envelope.

You have the right at any time to tell a debt collector that they are not allowed to contact you in any way. Once you let them know this, the law prohibits them from continuing to reach out to you. The only exception is that they can contact you to inform you that they intend to file a lawsuit against you.

If at any point the debt collector learns that you have an attorney, they are not allowed to contact you directly anymore. They also then cannot contact third parties to ascertain your location but instead must go through your attorney for all information and communication.

What To Do If They Break The Law?

If you believe that a debt collector has broken the law, then you have the right to file a lawsuit and to pursue damages. You will have to prove that the debt collector violated one of the FDCPA’s provisions. In order to show that your rights were violated, you will want to document the illegal conduct. You can do this by creating a log and writing down what happened and when.

If you can prove that a debt collector violated the law, then they may have to pay you a set amount of damages. This amount can be up to $1,000 per violation. You may be able to collect additional damages if you can show that the debt collector’s conduct caused you financial or emotional damage. For example, if the debt collector’s phone calls at work caused you to lose your job, or if the harassment caused you severe anxiety, requiring therapeutic treatment, you may seek compensation for those harms.

CO Consumer Rights Attorney

Dealing with unrelenting debt collectors? Consumer Law Pro focuses on representing consumers against unscrupulous debt collectors who violate the law when trying to collect debts. Consumer Law Pro’s consumer rights attorneys are prepared to thoroughly review your situation and recommend the best path for your situation. If you are looking for help, touch base with Consumer Law Pro by calling (303) 297-7729 or by contacting us online today.