If you are a victim of any calamity like job loss, accident, medical emergency or any other unfortunate event that makes you lose your income, you will be faced with a huge debt burden. If you fail to make a couple of payments, you can rest assured that the debt collectors will come knocking on your doorstep. It can be very embarrassing when these debt collectors call up your office trying to track you down.
Though not every debt collector is harsh, they have to brace them against the sob stories offered by the debtors for the overdue debts. They also earn a certain percentage as their commission on the amount they obtain. This forces them to harden themselves to the pleas of the debtors who are scared when the more aggressive collectors arrive to get their dues.
A debt collector can contact you in person, by mail, by telegram, by fax and by phone. They can visit you at home or in your office unless your employer disapproves. They are not allowed to contact you prior to 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you have authorized them to do so. If you have a lawyer, they should contact them instead of coming over to you. They can only contact the third parties once to get your contact details but they are not authorized to disclose the fact that you are in debt.
Irrespective of whether you owe a debt or not, write a letter to the collector prohibiting them from initiating any further contact. They can then contact you once just to tell you that they won’t be in touch with you any further or tell you the action they can initiate against you. However simply stopping contact will not erase your debts. You need to write to them that you do not owe them anything if it is the fact.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has implemented a Fair Debt Collection policy to honor the customers’ rights. Understanding your rights will prevent the most aggressive among debt collectors from harassing you. Usually these people know the law and think that you do not know the law.
Debt collectors are not permitted to harass, abuse or oppress you or others on your behalf. They cannot use foul language, threaten violence or call up often to irritate. They cannot give a wrong impression as the government agents, attorneys or representatives of the credit bureaus when in fact they are not. They cannot wrongfully state that the document they are sending is a legal one or that you have committed a crime when in fact you haven’t. They cannot threaten you with legal action like seizing property or freezing wages unless law permits them to and they intend to do so.
Contact the FTC to find out more about your rights. To report an agent, contact the FTC or your Attorney General. In case of breach of law, you can file a case against them.