Some facts about debt collection:
How can a debt collector contact you?
-- Collectors may contact you by mail, telephone, telegram or fax between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
-- Collectors may not contact you at work if they have reason to know your employer prohibits such communication.
-- Collectors may contact other people to find out your home address and phone number or your work location, but they cannot say that you owe money or that they work for a collection agency. Collectors may not tell others that you owe a debt.
-- If you have a lawyer, collectors may not contact anyone but your lawyer.
What rights do you have regarding debt collection?
-- You can stop collectors from calling or writing to you by sending them a letter asking them to stop. Once they receive the letter, they can only contact you to tell you that they are stopping their collection efforts or tell you what legal action they intend to take.
-- You can dispute that you owe all or part of a debt or ask for the name and address of the creditor (the person you allegedly owe). To do so, you must write to the collector within 30 days of receiving an initial letter or call about the debt. If you do, collectors must stop trying to collect until they send you proof that you owe the debt.
What debt collection practices are prohibited?
-- Harassment and abuse. Collectors cannot swear at you, threaten harm to you, call you repeatedly in an attempt to annoy you, call you without disclosing their identity or publicize your name as someone who refuses to pay debts.
-- Misleading statements. Collectors cannot misrepresent the amount you owe, make a letter look as if it is from the government or a court, imply that they are government representatives, imply that nonpayment will lead to your arrest or garnishment or threaten to disclose false information about you to a credit bureau.
-- Unfair practices. Collectors cannot collect any amount greater than your debt, deposit a post-dated check prematurely, deceive you into playing for collect calls, threaten to take your property unless they can legally do so, contact you by postcard or apply your payment to a debt other than the one you have indicated.
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