Dealing with Collection Agencies

Being in debt is certainly no fun. The feeling of dread every time the phone rings, the sense of impending doom because you know that you can’t possibly dig yourself out of the hole that you’re in, and the self loathing that comes from essentially feeling worthless can cause undue stress and mental anguish at a time in your life when you’re probably already pretty stressed out.

The best way to deal with debt collection agencies is to avoid ever having to do so. By making sound financial decisions and saving money for unforeseen hardships you can stay out of the hot water of past due bills and collection accounts. Unfortunately, sometimes things just happen and eventually the bill collectors start calling. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re dealing with debt collectors.

The Law is on Your Side

Collection agencies are governed by a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, this law spells out specific guidelines concerning what a collection agency can and can not do.

• Collectors may not contact you more than once per day regarding a debt.
• Collectors may not give information about your debtor status to any third party
• Collectors may not threaten any legal action which they do not actually intend to take
• Collectors may not call you before 8am or after 9pm in your local time zone
• If you inform a collector that you are represented by an attorney, the collector must deal with your attorney and not with you directly
• Collectors must inform you that their communication with you is an attempt to collect a debt and that any information they obtain from you will be used for that purpose
• If you advise a collection agency, in writing, that you wish them to cease and desist all contact with you, they must do so

It is important to keep in mind that these laws apply to third party collection agencies only, and not to the original creditors you owe. Being represented by an attorney or sending a cease and desist letter to a collection agency will not stop them from suing you. The law applies to consumer debt only. Certain civil debts (such as past due child support payments and federal or state taxes) are not covered by the FDCPA.

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