Many people in Kentucky and elsewhere start out the New Year with the goal of spending less and saving more, and if you are already on the radar of debt collectors that goal can become even more difficult. Whether credit card debt, student loans or other types of debt there are more than 30 million Americans targeted by debt collectors today, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Thus it may be a good time to remind consumers of their rights when it comes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The act states illegal debt collection efforts contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies as well as marital strife, invasions of privacy and the loss of employment. Some of the act's protections include limiting debt collectors to calling only during convenient hours, which are assumed to be 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless otherwise specified. Collectors are allowed to contact family members and employers in an effort to locate a debtor, but are only allowed to call each person once.
Debt collection agencies get involved after the original issuer of the loan or debt turns it over to them for collection and many of them are known for their extreme tactics, often illegal when it comes to getting folks to pay up. Yes, they can call you at work unless you tell them you are not allowed to accept such calls on the job.
Collectors are not allowed however, to tell a third party that the debtor owes them money. Debt collectors are often paid on a commission basis often with huge bonuses so they will use a number of abusive practices in an effort to get you to pay, including pretending to be a paralegal or fraud investigator or provide poor financial advice. Some of this advice includes telling debtors to take money out of a retirement account or skip a mortgage payment.
A collector or creditor can pursue a judgment against you in court which will allow them to obtain a wage garnishment, lien against your property or seize assets such as your bank accounts. Thus it is important not to simply ignore a legal summons, instead contact a bankruptcy attorney to learn your rights and steps you can take to seek debt relief and stop debt collection efforts, legal or otherwise.
Source: ABC 15, "Is it legal for a debt collector to call you at work?," Rachael Mason, Jan. 4, 2013
Our Kentucky law firm helps people stop creditor harassment and find debt relief through filing for bankruptcy protection and other strategies.