Debt collection statutes protect consumers from abusive, coercive, and oppressive actions of debt collection agencies. It is vitally important that you know your rights under these statutes so that you can protect yourself and file a complaint when your rights are violated. However, these statutes are not self enforcing. In order for the statutes to accomplish their lofty goals of protecting you from harassment and unethical and illegal practices, you must know your rights and take action when they are violated.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices (FDCPA) is a critical statute in this regard. The law covers debt collection activities aimed at collecting consumer debts. So if your debt was for business purposes, then the protections afforded do not apply to your particular case. Of course, you should check with an attorney before making a final decision. Most states have passed laws which implement many of the protections of the federal law and have gone a step further in establishing a consumer protection agency to enforce those rights.
Under the federal and state debt collection statutes you have rights against harassing, obscene and intimidating telephone calls as well as written communications which give the impression of coming from a government agency or attorney. You cannot be contacted at your office or workplace after you send a written notice to the company not to contact you there. You can also demand verification of the debt in writing and all collection activities must cease for the next 30 days or when you receive such verification.
A key provision of the federal law which has not received much discussion is the mandate that you can notify the collection agency in writing that you are not going to pay the debt and for the company not to contact you anymore and the collection agency has to comply. Be aware though that this will not prevent a lawsuit being filed against you nor will it prevent the agency from selling your debt to another company which you will have to notify of your refusal in writing.
You have rights which you should know about so that you can act accordingly. The worst thing you can do when contacted by a debt collection agency is to do nothing.
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