Debt collectors can’t harass you, no matter how much money you owe them – there are laws in place to prevent that. Whether you owe persona, family, or household debt, from credit cards to medical bills, collectors must operate within the confines of the law. If debt collectors are harassing you, you could have legal recourse… and you could be entitled to financial compensation. You may want to talk to an FDCPA attorney in Glendale or Los Angeles to learn more about your rights.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: How it Helps Consumers
The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. It outlines the rules debt collectors have to follow when they contact you.
Times and Places Debt Collectors Can Call
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and if you tell a debt collector that you’re not allowed to receive calls at work, he or she can’t contact you there.
However, collection agencies are allowed to contact you on the phone, by sending you a letter or email, or through a text message. The catch: They must disclose that they are debt collectors.
What Debt Collectors Can’t Do Under the Fair Debt Collection Act
A representative from a collection agency can never pretend to be someone else. (Saying he or she is an attorney or part of a government agency is illegal.)
They’re not allowed to harass, threaten, or deceive you, either. Under the FDCPA, collection agencies and their agents cannot:
- Threaten you with violence or harm
- Use obscene language
- Use the phone to annoy you
- Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts
- Make false statements or lie, like saying you committed a crime or pretending that they work for the government
Other Things Debt Collectors Can’t Do
Debt collectors can’t say that you’ll be arrested or that they’ll seize your property (unless they’re authorized by law to do so). They also can’t tell you that they’ll take legal action against you if doing so is illegal (or if they don’t intend to take legal action).
- Give anyone false credit information about you
- Send you things that look like official court or government documents but that aren’t
- Use false company names
- Try to collect interest or fees unless the contract or state law allows them to
- Deposit post-dated checks early
- Take your property (or threaten to take your property) unless it’s legal
- Send you a postcard
If debt collectors do any of these things, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
What About Third Parties?
Debt collectors have to contact your lawyer if you have one (but you have to tell them you have representation).
In an attempt to get your address, your home phone number, and where you work, collectors can call other people. In most cases, debt collectors can only contact a third party (other than your lawyer) once – and they’re not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone but you, your spouse, or your lawyer.
Validation Notice Under FDCPA
Within five days of contacting you, debt collectors must send you a written notice (called a validation notice) that says how much money you allegedly owe. The notice has to include two other elements: The name of the creditor you owe and how to proceed if you don’t believe you owe.
Repeated Contact by a Debt Collector
A debt collector can keep contacting you unless you send the agency a letter that says you don’t owe the money or asks for verification of the debt. You must send this letter within 30 days of receiving the validation notice.
It’s only a temporary halt, though. The debt collector can start contacting you again if the agency sends you written verification. This doesn’t mean the collection agency can harass you; collectors still have to follow the rules under the FDCPA.
What is Written Verification?
Written verification is something that proves you owe the debt (at least according to the bill collector). It could be something like a copy of a bill or a previous confirmation that you owed the debt.
Do You Need to Talk to a FDCPA Attorney in Glendale?
We may be able to help you get financial compensation if you’ve been harassed, lied to, or otherwise injured by a debt collector. Judges can require debt collectors to pay you for damages you’ve suffered due to their illegal collection practices (such as medical bills or lost wages), as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. You may also be able to collect punitive damages – money designed to punish the debt collector for bad behavior.
Call us immediately at 818-659-8324 or contact us online for a free case review. We’ll look over the facts and determine whether a debt collector likely violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act today.