Debt collectors have acquired a reputation (that’s sometimes well-deserved) for being downright rude and frightening in their attempts to get debtors to pay up. The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) was designed to curb these behaviors, but not all collectors follow the law. Below are a few things to know what collectors can (and can’t) do.
Pretend They Work for the Government
Recent incidents show exactly what collectors can’t do: misrepresent themselves as workers for the state or federal government. The FDCPA bars debt collectors from pretending they work for government agencies, including those in law enforcement and consumer reporting agencies.
Threaten Debtors With Arrest
Debt collection laws also prohibit collectors from accusing debtors of crimes or threatening them with arrest if they don’t pay the debt. A collection agency cannot issue an arrest warrant or have someone put in jail, and the failure to repay a credit card bill, car loan, or mortgage isn’t enough to land someone behind bars. With that said, however, if a person receives a notice to appear in court and they don’t do so, a warrant could be issued for their arrest.
Publicizing a Debt
Debt collectors cannot contact borrowers by postcard, publish debtors’ names, or talk to anyone but the debtor, their spouse, or their attorney about the debt. Collectors may contact other parties to try to track a debtor down, but they can only ask for the debtor’s contact information, and they can only contact these parties once.
There’s a lengthy list of ways in which collectors are prohibited from harassing debtors. A debt collector cannot:
- Threaten harm or violence
- Use profane language
- Call repeatedly
- Call after 9:00 pm or before 8:00 am without permission
- Call a debtor at work if it’s been disallowed in writing
- Contact a debtor who tells them in writing to stop or to consult their attorney
Even if a debtor asks a collector to stop contacting them, the agency may call to tell them that the calls will stop or that a lawsuit has been filed.
Some collectors will do or say almost anything to get borrowers to pay, regardless of whether the debt is real. If a collector calls a person, they should know there are state and federal protections in place. Don’t let an unethical collector force the payment of an un-owed debt; consult the Cane Bay Partners today for help.