It's anxiety-producing to try to dodge repeated calls from creditors at home and especially at work. After all, if you are so behind on your bills that you are being pursued by creditors, it's likely that you are well aware of your financial woes.
Creditors have the right to take action to recover their money, but they may not violate any state or federal laws in the process. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates this very matter.
In addition to that oversight, Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect American consumers from harassment by debt collectors.
The prohibitions of the Act affect third-party collection agencies that are working to collect debts on the original creditors' behalf. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors must:
- Properly identify themselves each time they communicate with the debtor
- Upon the debtor's written request, verify the legitimacy of the debt in question. Debtors have a 30-day window to request this verification. If the creditor fails to respond with the verification within that timeframe, they must stop all collection efforts.
- Notify debtors that all communications are from a debt collector and all information garnered is intended for purposes of collecting a debt.
- Provide debtors with the original creditor's address and name.
- Provide notification to the debtor that they have a right to dispute all or part of a debt.
If a lawsuit results from these collection efforts, it must be filed in the proper venue -- either in the location where the contract was signed or the location of the debtor's residence.
If you are being hassled by debt collectors, you may want to look into filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection to get financially back on track.