Did you know that in 2011 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 181,000 complaints against 3rd part debt collectors? This fact alone should tell you that, in many cases, these companies and their employees donâ€™t exactly play by the rules and in some cases are even are downright illegally trying to collect debts. Thus it becomes vitally important for you to know your rights so that you wonâ€™t get taken by an unscrupulous debt collection agency.
The first thing you should be fully aware of is the exact definition of a debt collector. These are companies that are hired by banks and credit card companies when they are having problems collecting a debt from one of their customers. Debt collection agencies are expected to use the policies of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and, if they donâ€™t they can be fined and or penalized because of it. Like any business they must follow the rules.
The results of an unpaid debt can and usually will appear on your credit report, lowering your credit score and causing trouble for you the next time you want to get a loan or other type of credit or even want to rent an apartment or get a new job.
Collection agencies by law are allowed to call only during certain hours of the day.Â If youâ€™re receiving calls, for example, early in the morning or late at night you should report the company to the FTC because they are violating FDCPA rules.
Stopping a debt collection agency from calling you, no matter the time of day, requires that you send them a letter to cease and desist.Â Send it certified mail so that you have a receipt showing that they received it.Â Keep in mind that phone calls alone will not work.
Debt collectors must show proof that the debt is actually yours also.Â They must prove that it is yours in writing in order to continue to trey and collect.Â If you want this proof a certified letter asking for it is necessary.Â If they canâ€™t prove itâ€™s your debt they must stop trying to collect it. Thereâ€™s a time limit to do this so donâ€™t hesitate if you believe the debt isnâ€™t yours.
You can sue a debt collector if they threaten you, violate your rights or ask you to pay more than you owe. If the debt is more than 7 years old it is probably past the statute of limitations and doesnâ€™t need to be paid. Also, if you do agree to pay you should get a promise in writing before paying that the debt will be taken off your credit report.