Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Published January 7, 2013 by

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was set up to protect consumers from being harassed by debt collectors for payments. It contains rules that creditors and collection agencies must follow when they are trying to collect a debt from you. It is important that you understand the guidelines of this act so that you can protect yourself from harassing phone calls and overzealous collectors.

Some Basic Rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The most basic rule of the act is that debt collectors should only try to contact you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m on any given day. Also, they are not allowed to contact you at work if you verbally request that they not do this. Additionally, they are not allowed to tell other parties about your debt or the details regarding it.

If collectors do tell anyone about the amount you owe, or even that they are trying to reach you regarding a debt, you can report them as being in violation of the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. However, they are still allowed to contact other people to learn your address, phone number or place of employment.

Show Proof of Debt

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collectors are required to provide written proof of a debt they claim you owe, if you request that proof. This can benefit you tremendously because sometimes collectors will mistakenly contact you thinking that you are someone else with the same name who owes a debt, and the written proof of the debt can clue you in to this. Also, this requirement can benefit you because, if someone has actually stolen your identity and left you with a debt, you can find this out and take the appropriate steps.

If the collector fails to provide proof in a reasonable amount of time, you can have them stop contacting you. If you are unsure at all about whether or not you are responsible for the debt that the collector is going after you for, you should request that they send you the paperwork. If you are not responsible for the debt, you will need to file a police report and then send a copy of that to the collector to prove that you do not owe them money.

Stop Collection Calls

Per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you can stop collection calls by sending a written letter requesting the collector to stop calling you. This action normally will stop the calls. If it does not, you can report the collector to the Federal Trade Commission. You do have the right to sue if the collector continually violates the laws set up by the act. You can contact an attorney if the collector continues to harass you, and often, just mentioning to the collector that you are considering suing them will help stop the harassment after you have already sent a letter.

Wage Garnishment

The act also stipulates that a collector cannot garnish your wages until you have been sued and lost in court. You should receive a notice that you are being sued, so that you can show up in court to defend yourself. Once they have sued you, they do have the right to garnish your wages until the debt is paid off. The court will set up the guidelines regarding the garnishment. If you fail to show up to court to protest the garnishment, you will likely lose the case.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to prevent debtors from being harassed, so they can continue to live normal lives while trying to pay off their debts. If you are dealing with debts that call for collectors to get involved, make sure you keep in mind the rights you have under the act.