If you owe money to creditors, you may already be aware of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also known as the FDCPA, you have the right to demand certain ethical debt collection practices from debt collectors.
The FDCPA outlines when and how debt collectors can contact you, and what they can say to you in order to collect a debt. For example, a bill collector cannot lie to you in any way, or misrepresent the facts about your debt. This Act was created as a result of a long history of abuses by debt collectors. What you may not know about the FDCPA, though, is that bill collectors have rights, too.
First, they have the right to initiate communications with you in order to inform you about your debt. These communications may be in the form of a telephone call or a letter. In this communication, they can spell out exactly what you owe, including fees and penalties.
Second, a collector has the right to continue to contact you until you notify them in writing that you don’t owe any money, that you don’t owe all of the money, or that you require verification of the debt. Of course, the FDCPA limits when and how they can continue to contact you, but as long as they operate within the rules of the law, they can continue to contact you until you put a stop to it.
Third, if that debt collector is actually the creditor to whom the money is owed, or an in-house agency owned by the creditor, they can continue to contact you even if you request that they stop contacting you. This is because the FDCPA does not recognize creditors as debt collectors, so they are not subject to the same rules as collectors are. Of course, they still have to abide by the rules of decent behavior outlined in the law, such as not harassing people you know, or calling at all hours of the night.
Fourth, they have the right to contact other people about your debt…but only once, but only to find out your address, your phone number, or where you work. However, they are prohibited from contacting a third party more than once. Any more than that can constitute harassment.
Finally, a debt collector has the right to sue you to collect on a debt that you owe. Of course, you have the right to defend yourself in court, but if a judgment is made against you, your wages may be garnished.
When dealing with debt collectors, make sure that you know your rights under the law. But also make sure that you know the rights that the law gives to debt collectors. This knowledge can help you to better deal with them when and if they become a problem.