Debt Collectors: Don’t Like Them, Can’t Avoid Them
If you are short selling your home, you are most likely experience debt collectors. As a REALTOR(R) who lists short sales, I expect to get calls from my clients who are frustrated at the lack of professionalism in the debt collection industry. Part of my job as a short sale listing agent is to take some of the stress and burden off of the seller, but I can’t prevent these calls. You took out a loan, you haven’t paid the loan back under the terms you promised, the bank has a right to try and collect on the debt. However, there are rules and regulations for debt collectors. Many of these rules and regulations are being violated. It is the consumer’s responsibility to make sure their rights are not being violated and report it if they are.
The Fair Debt Collections Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The FDCA covers debt including personal credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans. Here are some commonly violated rules of the FDCA.
1. No debt collector can call you before 8am and after 9pm, unless you agree to it. They can not call you at work, as long as you express to the collector that you are not allowed to receive calls there.
2. If you no longer want the debt collector to contact you, you may tell them to stop all contact in writing. Again, this must be done in writing. However, if you do owe a debt, it is not always the best idea to avoid collection phone calls. It is probably in your best interest to try and work something out with the debt collector.
3. A collector can only contact other people to find out your address, your phone number, and/ or your place of work. Collectors are usually not allowed to contact a 3rd party more than once. The collector is generally not allowed to discuss the debt with a 3rd party, unless it is your spouse or an attorney.
4. Debt collectors are not allowed to harass, use threats of violence or harm, use obscene or profane language, or repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
5. Debt collectors are not permitted to make false statements. They can not claim you have committed a crime. We no longer have debtor’s prison.
6. Some federal benefits are exempt from being garnished. These include: Social Security Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits, Service Members’ Pay, and Military Annuity and Survivors’ Benefits.
You can report any alleged or perceived violations to your state Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission. Your state Attorney General’s office will help you determine your rights under your state’s laws.