Debt collection laws have changed, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Now, collection laws aren’t one-sided, but instead give consumers a way to fight back against bill collectors who would cross the line in an attempt to collect a debt. So many bill collectors work on a contingency basis, which means that they don’t get paid unless they collect, and that can make them take actions in their collection efforts that are against collection laws.

If you’re dealing with a collection agency employee, and aren’t sure if he’s following debt collection laws, here’s a general overview of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

* Any time a bill collector contacts you, he or she must identify himself or herself as a collector. They aren’t allowed to pretend to be anyone else, such as law enforcement, an office of the court, or an attorney.

* According to collection laws, a debt collector must tell you in their original contact letter that you have 30 days to dispute the debt. They must also tell you that unless you do so, they have the right to assume that the bill is valid.

* If you dispute a debt, the collection agency isn’t allowed to continue their efforts to collect the money until they have proven the debt is yours to pay. If they do, they are violating the established debt collection laws.

*If the debt is disputed, it will be the collector’s responsibility to prove that the debt is yours. They must provide you with original paperwork that shows you agreed to pay the debt to the original creditor.

* If it’s established that the debt is yours, the debt collector cannot speak to anyone about the debt except you and, in some states, your spouse.

If they call a third party to try and locate you, they aren’t allowed to tell them that they are calling about a debt. What’s more, if you hire an attorney, the collection laws state that debt collectors can only communicate with your attorney from the date you notify them about it.

* When dealing with a collection agency, they aren’t allowed to talk to you in a way that demeans you, belittles you, or humiliates you. They aren’t allowed to threaten you or attempt to bully you into paying your debt.

* A collector isn’t allowed to contact you at work if you tell them, in writing, that you’re not allowed to receive phone calls there.

* Debt collection laws state that a debt collector can’t call you before 8AM or after 9PM in your time zone. In addition, they aren’t allowed to make repeated calls in an attempt to harass you.

* If you don’t wish to communicate with a collector, you have the right to tell them so. Send them a cease and desist letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested and tell them that you no longer wish to communicate with them, and according to collection laws, they must stop. That doesn’t mean that they have to stop attempting to collect the debt, but they won’t be able to contact you unless they do so to tell you that they are stopping their collection efforts, or are taking legal action to collect the debt.

Sergei Lemberg, Esq. is the Principal of Lemberg & Associates, a law firm practicing fair debt collection law, lemon law, and other consumer law. Debt Collection Lawsuit at Falcon Credit Management is one of a variety of debt management services we specialize in.
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