The phone is ringing again. You know that it’s a debt collection agency. You hit “silent” and ignore it. After all, you don’t have the money to pay them so you don’t know what you’re going to tell them. Still, their constant calls are getting really annoying. Is there anything that you can do to get them to stop calling you? Yes.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (which is part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act), there are certain things that debt collection agencies are absolutely not allowed to do. You have the right to request that they stop doing these things and can even take them to court if they continue these behaviors.
Make sure that you are aware of the fact that debt collection agencies are not allowed to do the following ten things:
- They cannot call you over and over repeatedly. Debt collection agencies are not allowed to keep calling and having your phone ring over and over until you pick up.
- They cannot call you at odd hours. It is legal for debt collection agencies to call you between 8 am and 9 pm (your local time) Monday through Saturday and between 1 pm and 5 pm (your local time) on Sundays. They aren’t allowed to call outside of those hours and they aren’t allowed to call you on official holidays. So if you get a call from a debt collection agency at midnight on Christmas then you have the right to force them to not do that anymore.
- They cannot threaten you. Debt collection agencies are not allowed to make threats. They can’t say that they’ll sue you when they don’t intend to do so. They cannot threaten to tell your employer or your friends or anyone else about your debt problems.
- They cannot speak to you using abusive language. If you are ever on the phone with a debt collection agency and they begin to swear at you, call your names or otherwise speak to you abusively then you should hang up. You should immediately put in writing what happened and send it to the management of the agency.
- They cannot talk to other people about your debt. Debt collection agencies are allowed to discuss your debt with your spouse and your attorney. Other than that, they are not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone. They may call your employer and other contacts to verify employment or to verify your contact information but they are not allowed to reveal any information about your debt. Notably, they are only allowed to call these people one single time to verify that information.
- They cannot share your debt information in other ways. For example, they cannot send an open postcard to you that reveals information about your debt because others would be able to see it. They cannot print information about your debts in magazines, newspapers or other media. They are not allowed to publish lists of people who haven’t paid debts. They have a responsibility to keep your debt problems private.
- They cannot report false information to your credit report. They can tell the truth about what you haven’t paid but they can’t create falsehoods to further ruin your credit. Make sure that you stay on top of your credit report if you’re having trouble with debt collection agencies.
- They can’t lie about who they are. They must tell you who they are and who they are calling on behalf of to collect the debt. They cannot pretend to have any authority that they don’t have. Therefore, if you get a call from someone who says that they are a police officer or a lawyer or anyone else with authority, you need to verify that they really are who they say they are.
- They cannot lie about what’s happening with your debt. They can’t, for example, say that they are selling off your debt to another party when this isn’t what they are doing.
- They cannot keep contacting you if you request in writing that they not call you anymore. That’s right; you have the right to ask them to stop bothering you and they have to comply. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t responsible for your debt anymore. The debt collection agency is free to pursue legal recourse and to contact you through a lawyer to notify you as such. However, if you have requested in writing that they not call you, they are no longer allowed to call you. And by the way, even if you don’t cease communication completely, you are perfectly within your right to notify the agency that they may not call you at work and they have to respect that.
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