In 1977, the U.S. government enacted a law that protects you regarding any and all debts you owe at any given time. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act prohibits creditors and collection agencies from harassing people who owe money on their credit cards or to a mortgage lender, etc. Have you been getting numerous phone calls every day, at work and at home? Do the callers say they are attempting to collect a debt but refuse to identify the original creditor?
These are just a couple issues that would fall under fair debt collections. Just because your credit card balance has gotten out of hand or you haven't been able to make monthly mortgage payments on time, this doesn't give people the right to harass you with unsolicited phone calls, especially if the person calling is threatening you with litigation or using intimidation tactics to try to scare you.
Things to know in order to protect your rights
You have to know your rights to protect your rights. Owing a debt is not a crime. Many people face dire financial situations that impede their ability to pay back loans or resolve credit card balances. The following list shows ways the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act protects you from harassment:
- If you owe a debt, not everyone has a right to know about it. The law protects you from others sharing your personal debt information with people not authorized to know it.
- It is acceptable for legitimate debt collection phone calls to take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If you're receiving harassing calls before or after those hours, you can take legal action to stop it.
- If someone calls you to collect a supposed debt, you have a right to request proof that you owe the debt in question.
- Some people have fallen for schemes where supposed collections agents have threatened them with arrest if they do not send money to a particular location. No one may issue such threats against you.
- A debt collector must inform you that you have a right to dispute the debt in question. They should do this during their first contact with you.
If a debt collector cannot verify the debt he or she is claiming you owe, he or she must cease all collections correspondence. Keeping in mind that, if you are aware of owing a particular debt, you have an obligation to pay it, you do not have to allow unfair debt collections practices to disrupt your daily life or cause you emotional distress.
Support is available
If you have a serious financial problem that has prompted a debt issue you are currently unable to resolve, you may want to research various forms of bankruptcy and other alternative debt relief solutions. Someone well-versed in bankruptcy law can provide guidance and support regarding how to stop collections harassment.