Debt collectors must follow strict rules

New Jersey residents who are struggling to make ends meet will likely know how persistent debt collection companies can be. While debt collectors are permitted to contact borrowers by mail or telephone, they must abide by strict rules laid down by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The 1977 law does not allow debt collectors to call borrowers before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., and collection companies are required to comply when requests to cease contact are made in writing.

The FDCPA allows debt collectors to apply reasonable pressure to secure payment of unpaid bills, but they are not permitted to lie, make threats or use abusive language. They are also prohibited from divulging personal financial information to family members or employers. When their collection efforts are unsuccessful, debt collectors may sell debts to a third party or file lawsuits against borrowers to recover money they are owed.

Debt collection companies that fail to follow these rules can face severe sanctions. Consumers who have been subjected to harassment or abuse over unpaid bills can file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Complaints can be submitted online or by calling the agency. Residents of the Garden State who wish to complain about debt collection tactics can also contact the Office of the Attorney General at the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.

Borrowers can put an end to daily harassment by referring debt collectors to attorneys with experience in this area. Attorneys could point out that filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy provides a more permanent solution to the problem. This is because judges issue an automatic stay in bankruptcy cases that orders creditors and debt collectors to make no further efforts to recover unpaid debts. The automatic stay also lifts pay garnishments and halts debt-related lawsuits.

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