An estimated 53% of debt collection efforts have a major error such as they are for the wrong person, the wrong amount or the debt is not even owed! This shows that the debt collection industry is far from perfect and collection agencies often make mistakes. Just because you receive a demand from a collector does not mean you should automatically pay. If you think the debt collector has made a mistake you should make sure that is known. Regardless of whether you think the collector has made a mistake or not, the following rules likely apply to the debt collector. The following rules only apply to collection agencies – not the originally creditor. If a debt collector violated one of these rules, Eli Marchbanks at Navigate Law Group may be able to take your case at no charge to you:
- Call you before 8 am or after 9 pm local time. If a debt collector calls you before 8 am or after 9 pm local time make sure to record when they called and the content of the conversation. Also, if you can, preserve the call log to prove the time of the call.
- Not properly identifying themselves as a debt collector. In all communications with you (except court pleadings), whether written or oral, the debt collector must identify that the communication is from a debt collector.
- Not telling you the communication is to collect a debt. In the first communication with you, the debt collector must not only tell you they are a debt collector, they must tell you the communication is for the purpose of collecting a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
- Use of obscene, profane, or abusive language. Debt collectors are not allowed to use any language that would naturally abuse or harass you.
- Tell you that you have committed a crime. It is not a crime to be in debt. A debt collector cannot falsely tell you or imply that you that you have committed a crime.
- Threaten to “expose” you. Debt collectors cannot tell or threaten to tell people about your debt. The exception is in limited circumstances the debt collector may be allowed to communicate with your employer or someone else who could be jointly liable for the debt.
- Advise you of your rights. Unless the debt collector is a licensed attorney, any advice about your legal rights they give you could be the unauthorized practice of law.
- Threaten your credit. A debt collector may not threaten to impair your credit if the debt remains unpaid. The exception is that if they legally can report the debt to a credit reporting bureau and actually intend to do so.
- Blocked their phone number. A debt collector may not intentionally block their phone number from displaying on your phone. If they do this, take notes about the content of your conversation with the debt collector and preserve your call log for proof.
- Falsely claim to be law enforcement, an attorney, or the government. A debt collector may not tell you they are a cop, lawyer, or affiliated with a government agency if that is not true. This extends to how they present themselves. They are not allowed to strongly suggest or imply through the paperwork that they send that they are any of the aforementioned unless it is true.
There are many laws governing debt collectors and this list is far from complete. There are many rights you have that protect you from harassing, unfair, or unsavory collection efforts. If a debt collector violates just one of these laws under state or federal law, you may be entitled to relief of your obligation to pay, additional damages, and/or to have the collection agency pay for your attorney.
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.