If you are in debt and have missed one or more payments, you have probably been contacted by a creditor. Often, creditors can be intimidating and some go so far as to make threats to collect their money.
What many people don’t know is that you have several rights as a consumer that protects you from abusive or unfair collection practices. Although the creditor maintains the right to collect the money you owe, you have the right to manage your debts without duress.
Debt collection practices are regulated by the government and creditors are supposed to follow the rules set forth by the guidelines. However, many creditors violate these rules and may engage in unacceptable debt collection practices. A creditor is not allowed to:
- Call before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm
- Harass a consumer by (a) calling continuously in one block of time (b) make their debt public in the media
- Engage in abusive or threatening language or actions
- Misrepresent themselves or the amount owed
- Continue to collect after a written request to cease communications has been issued
Fortunately, consumers are protected in several ways. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a program that offers educational resources for consumers to know their rights and provides consumers a way to file a complaint against creditors.
Contact your creditor directly. Most of the time, debt collections are passed off to third party collection companies. Contact your creditor directly to negotiate a repayment plan and prevent third party creditors from contacting you.
File for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy can protect you from credit collections as you work to repay your debts. The bankruptcy process issues an automatic stay order, which legally prohibits creditors from contacting you in any way.
Report the violation. If you have experienced any unacceptable debt collection attempts, contact the Federal Trade Commission and give them the name of your creditor and a detailed account of the violation.