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Important information about debt collection practices

Consumers need to understand their rights when it comes to debt collection and freedom from harassment.

The debt collection industry in America is a multi-billion-dollar business. Every day, debt collectors from thousands of companies – both scrupulous and not so scrupulous – call or send letters in an attempt to collect upon debts. Many of these debt collectors are strictly adhering to governing state and federal laws, and using legitimate collection techniques. Others, however, are harassing debtors with constant phone calls, refusing to provide written proof of the debt, making threats, using profanity or disclosing information about the debt to third parties without the debtor’s permission.

What creditors can do

Under laws like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), creditors and debt collection companies have the right to attempt to collect upon legitimate debts. This means that they can call the debtor in an attempt to collect, they can send monthly bills and they can send letters to put the debtor on notice. Creditors also have the legal right to sue a debtor in an attempt to collect payment, provided the debt is legitimate and that it can be legally proven to belong to the debtor.

What debt collectors cannot do

Collection practices regulations don’t give creditors carte blanche to call at all hours of the day or night, nor does they authorize the use of shady techniques like:

  • Using profanity or other foul language
  • Threatening arrest
  • Calling very early in the morning or late at night
  • Threatening to have the debtor fired from his or her job
  • Disclosing the debt to third parties like family members, employers or acquaintances
  • Threatening to repossess items that are not collateral for the debt (i.e. a debt collector claiming that a car will be repossessed for an unrelated credit card bill)

Weighing your options

Once you have gotten to the point where you are dealing with harassment from one or more aggressive debt collectors, chances are that you may be facing more debt that you can handle. It is important to remember that there are debt relief options at your disposal, including Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

Should you find yourself on the wrong side of an unscrupulous debt collector, it is important to remember that you have legal rights, and that you don’t have to deal with harassment. For more information about ways to make debt collectors stop harassing you – and about debt management solutions that could give you a fresh financial start – speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney today.

Keywords: debt collection, creditor, debtor, bankruptcy, Chapter 13, Chapter 7, creditor harassment