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Consumer rights and debt collection

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2021 | Bankruptcy

When a debtor in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, falls behind on bills, they may find themselves getting calls from collectors. Sometimes, a creditor turns debt over to a collection agency and pays the agency a commission or the agency buys the debt outright. However, just like the original creditors, collection agencies must follow specific collection laws.

What collectors can and can not do

The Fair Debt Consumer Protection Act gives debtors protection from overbearing collection agencies. Under this law, the collection agency cannot publish a public list of debtors, harass the debtor or make personal threats.

They may not threaten to arrest debtors, but if a debtor does not show for court, they still could get arrested. The law forbids collectors to call at inconvenient hours, which is commonly between 9 pm and 8 am unless the debtor gives them permission. They must identify themselves to the caller and not pretend they are an attorney or government official.

While a creditor can’t seek legal action against expired debts, they can still pursue the debt. A debt collection agency is still allowed to contact the debtor daily by phone or by letter as long as they follow laws.

How debtors can stop collectors

Sometimes, an inaccuracy causes the collector to contact a debtor about a debt they no longer owe. Debtors who feel they do not owe the debt may contact the three major credit bureaus to investigate and send a letter to the debt collector. For harassing calls about current debts, a debtor should attempt to stop the calls by writing the collection agency.

If collections don’t stop, debtors may submit a complaint to the attorney general in the state or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Debtors should keep all records of contact, including dates and times of conversations.

When a debtor files for bankruptcy, it activates the automatic stay which prohibits further collection action. It is possible for a debtor to go pro se in court, but an attorney may be able to communicate with creditors on their behalf or help them file bankruptcy.