You are way in over your head in terms of your debts, and that’s been the case for some time. On top of that, you now have debt collectors after you, and don’t know how to tell if their conduct is above board.
Your concerns are valid, since there are some posers out there who may be running roughshod over your rights – IF they are real collectors.
With that in mind, here’s how to determine whether a debt collector is legitimate.
Besides a variety of state laws, there’s a federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that restricts conduct in the collection of debts such as credit cards, mortgages, and medical debts. It also helps you to know whether you’re dealing with a real collector.
Such collectors can be collection agencies, debt purchasers, and lawyers who, as part of their business, frequently collect on debts. Debt collectors may also include people or entities that buy past-due debts then try to collect on them. Typically, these are debt buyers or debt collection agencies.
What Does the Law Do?
Well, it bars collectors from calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. And if you’ve told them not to, it prohibits collectors from contacting you at work.
Also, under the FDCPA, debt collectors may not harass you, whether it’s over the phone or whatever. They also aren’t permitted to use deceptive, abusive, or unfair practices to get you to fork over what they believe they have coming.
What’s more, if a debt collector is aware that you have an attorney who is representing you about the delinquency, they must stop contacting you. Rather, they must defer to your attorney — provided they have the name and contact info.
Did you know that you can direct a debt collector to stop contacting you altogether? It’s true — if you do so in writing. Subsequently, the only contact permitted is to let you know that, as requested, there will be no more contact, or that you’re about to be sued.
If any of these requirements are breached, it’s possible that you aren’t dealing with a legit collector.
What is the Law Regarding Debt Collector Provisions?
In accordance with the law, a collector must provide you with the creditor’s name and how much you owe. They must also tell you that the debt can be disputed and inform you that you are entitled to the identity of, and contact info for, the original creditor, if they differ from the current creditor. If you don’t receive this during the initial contact, it must be sent in writing within five days. If they don’t, you’re likely dealing with a scam.
And if I Wish to Dispute the Debt?
It is also your right to dispute part of or all the debt. If you do so in writing within 30 days, the collector is not allowed to phone or contact you until you’re provided with written verification of the debt.
If you request the original creditor’s identity within the required 30 days and you don’t recognize it, examine your records. The debt may have been purchased from another company.
If the debt is indeed yours, and there’s no way you’re able to pay it, you may need assistance from a debt relief company. Check out Freedom Debt Relief customer reviews.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act and Other Measures
There’s also the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which covers how debt collections look on your credit reports.
Further, there exists federal consumer financial protection legislation that prohibit debt collectors and even creditors from using deceptive, unfair, or abusive conduct. You can use this knowledge to help weed out bad actors when it comes to debt collection.
You may also contact your state’s attorney general if you have reason to believe that a debt collector is illegitimate. If they are, or they’ve engaged in impermissible conduct, you may file suit against the person or agency in federal or state court.
So, yes, you’re already in enough trouble, without having to deal with a bad debt collector. But knowing your rights, and how to determine a debt collector’s legitimacy, will at least ease that part of the equation. Knowledge is power, and you likely have more than you think.