What Are My Basic Rights Regarding Bill Collectors?
Posted: Jan 23, 2014
Many people do not know their basic consumer credit rights. When a debt collector calls on the phone or sends a threatening letter, it is easy to become intimidated. The young and the elderly are especially susceptible to being unfairly coerced by communication from bill collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) serves to protect debtors of all ages and income levels against unfair and illegal bill collection activities.
A common threat unscrupulous debt collectors like to use is that you can go to jail for not paying your bills. While it is true that you can go to jail if you take out a credit card with a fake Social Security Number or do not pay your child support, this is not the case in almost all consumer debts. Under consumer credit rights, you cannot be arrested for failing to pay a simple debt. Also, even if you did commit a crime, a bill collector cannot just toss you into jail and give you a prison sentence. There are courts and procedures, and the debt collector has nothing to do with the justice system.
Consumer credit rights also dictate that bill collectors may only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the debtor's time zone. In addition, they cannot call you repeatedly or talk to others about the bills they claim you owe. Whenever a debt collector calls or writes you a letter, he or she must identify why they are calling and that any information they receive can be used for the purpose of trying to collect a debt.
If you do not want to be called at home or work about a bill, consumer credit rights protect you from this unwanted communication. You simply write a letter saying they need to "cease and desist" contact with you unless in writing. The collection agency can be sued if they keep calling you after you ask them in writing to stop. It is always a good idea to send such communications through certified mail. This creates a paper trail that makes it difficult for the business to claim they never knew of your written request.
Overall, consumer credit rights under the FDCPA protect everyone from being unfairly harassed by bill collectors. With some basic knowledge, you can still live a peaceful and private life even if you do owe late bills. Everyone has the right to telephone peace, even someone owing thousands of dollars of debt.
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