What Are Debt Collectors Allowed To Do?
Debt can be stressful for you and your loved ones, especially when you must endure harassment from creditors. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission has established guidelines for how debt collectors may contact you.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act details what debt collectors may and may not do to collect a debt.
When and where can they contact me?
Generally, debt collectors may contact you by phone, mail, email or text message. Under the FDCPA, they may not call before 8 AM or after 9 PM without your permission. They might call you at work, but if you inform them that your workplace does not allow you to receive these calls, they must cease.
Can they contact my family?
Debt collectors can only discuss your debt with you and your spouse. They can contact other parties to obtain your contact information, but they may not discuss your debt and they typically may only contact a family member once.
Can they harass or threaten me?
The FDCPA prohibits certain behavior, including threats of violence, abusive language and deception. The law also protects your right to privacy; a debt collection agency can not send you a postcard or envelope with details of your debt visible on the outside.
What if I file for bankruptcy?
When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay takes effect, putting an immediate stop to most debt collection efforts.
Some debts, such as child support, are exempt from the automatic stay. Creditors can file for relief from the automatic stay which, if granted, would allow them to resume collection efforts. In general, however, the automatic stay can provide relief from constant debt collection phone calls.
If you have debt, you need not endure harassment. The law protects your rights and provides options for relief from debt.