Fair Debt Collection Practices: Know Your Rights!
When you owe a debt you may be contacted by the creditor or a debt collector. You may receive letters and phone calls from collection agencies and/or their attorneys. Tread carefully here especially when it has been many years since you made any payments or purchases/charges to the account. Certain action taken by you could “restart the clock” regarding the rights of the debt collector.
A debt collector cannot do the following:
- Threaten to take action that it does not intend to pursue
- Contact your friends, family, employer, or others other than to determine where you live and work
- Make any false statement regarding an alleged debt
- Use profane language or repeated telephone calls
- Contact you at work if they have a valid, non-work related phone number for you
- Threaten to hurt or harm you or your family
◘ Whenever you speak with a debt collector record the following information:
- Date and time of the conversation
- Approximate length of the conversation
- Name and phone number of debt collection agency or company
- Name of person(s) with whom you spoke
- General nature of conversation (did the person make any threats of legal action, garnishment, judgments, physical violence or intimidation? What was the amount of the account and any late charges? did the person offer any settlement terms for the debt?)
◘ Save all voicemails, recorded messages, text messages, letters and envelopes, faxes and cover sheets, e-mails, and any other written communication you receive from debt collectors.
◘ If you dispute any part of the debt, tell the debt collector in a simple letter. In your letter, state that you dispute the debt and want written verification of the debt. Your letter need not mention any specific laws or threaten legal action. Send your letter via certified mail, return receipt requested and keep a copy of your letter.
◘ Do not become abusive or use profane language, threats, or other intimidation tactics when speaking with debt collectors.
NOTE: If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you may be entitled to recover actual damages, statutory damages of up to $1,000, and attorney’s fees and court costs, if you win your case. Under North Carolina’s state debt collection laws, collectors who harass consumers may additionally be responsible for actual damages, up to $4,000 in statutory damages, and attorney’s fees and court costs.
If you are being hounded or abused by debt collectors contact Attorney John O’Neal to discuss your situation today.