(US consumer law) Debt collectors are required to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). However, intimidation, harassment, and threats are still used in attempts to collect on debts. Some recent studies have found that, due to the decline of the economy, there have been more complaints of debt collectors breaking the FDCPA to take advantage debtors in tough, financial positions. Violations of the FDCPA can result in civil liability for debt collectors engaging in prohibited conduct. In fact, the experienced attorneys at Krohn and Moss have protected the rights of many debtors from aggressive and abusive debtor collectors.
While the FDCPA provides steep sanctions for violations, there are natural risks that debt collectors will brave to make money for themselves. That is because debt collectors work for a collection agency, which is not the original holder of the debt. These debt collects usually have a quota and are paid on commission. Therefore, unless they can obtain payments from debtors, they do not earn much. Thus, debt collectors will resurrect debts they are barred from pursuing against many debtors. When debtors are confronted with harassment from debt collectors, they often do not know how to protect their rights.
When a consumer is contacted by a debt collector, the first thing he or she should do is confirm with their credit report that the debt is legitimate. If for example the debt shows up on their report as “charged off,” he or she does not owe the debt collector any money. Sometimes debt collectors manufactured what has become known as “phantom debt” to deceive consumers in this way. However, if the debt is legitimate then the debt collector can attempt to collect it.
Debt collectors may say a consumer owes money even when he or she does not. The FDCPA has set down rules that debt collectors must follow. Our experienced attorneys at Krohn and Moss have identified several rules that every person must know and broken them down for you here.
There are some other tactics a consumer can take to protect themselves. For instance, a consumer can tell the debt collector that she or he wants the debt validated. A consumer has 30 days from the time he or she is first contacted by the debt collector to dispute the validity of the debt. However, if the validity of the debt is not disputed, the debt collector will assume the debt is valid.
Therefore, it is very important that consumers request validation. When having a debt validated the consumer can ask to see copies of the original contract, documents showing the last payments posted, and fees or penalties added. If the debt collector is unable to validate the debt (by showing documentation from the original source), the consumer may not have to pay it and it may not have to appear on his or her credit record.
Under the FDCPA, if a debt collector is harassing a consumer, the consumer can send a cease and desist letter. The letter informs the debt collector that the consumer does not want to be contacted any further either by phone or mail. The letter should be sent registered and return receipt requested to prove that the debt collection agency received it. Debt collection agencies are required to abide by the request to cease and desist. Should the debt collector fail to do so the consumer can bring an action. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) also enforces violations of the FDCPA against debt collectors.
Consumers also have the right to attempt to negotiate the debt. There are times when the debt collector could be willing to settle for less than the consumer owes. Debt collectors tend to be more likely to agree to settle the debt towards the end of the month. Consumers should be sure to get the settlement in writing prior to agreeing.
We understand the frustration you may have when dealing with an aggressive debt collector. We have been successfully representing those abused and taken advantage of by debt collectors for years, and have a long list of successful stories to share with you. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 if you prefer to talk to a trained professional over the phone instead, or of course, visit our website at http://www.krohnandmoss.com/.