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asked on Oct 21, 2004 at 00:28
by   Hutang
Every day thousands of people are harassed by debt collection agencies.  At best this harassment is annoying but in many cases it may even be illegal.  You must be aware of the distinction between a creditor and a collection agency.  A creditor is the company to which you owe the money.  A debt collection agency is a third party (sometimes a law firm) that is charged with the task of collecting what you owe.

NEVER give a collection agency your cell phone number.

NEVER give the collection agency your family or friend's phone numbers to call you at their home.  They'll harass your family until you pay your bills.

NEVER offer to pay anything unless the debt collector claims it writing first.  If they call you on the phone, tell them they'll just have to wait.

A federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was created by the FTC to protect us.  Most people are unaware that this law even exists.  Unfortunately this law applies only to third party collection agencies and not to the creditor to which you owe the money, as they are usually banks, and assumed to be decent people.  Here's a brief summary of the FTC law:

1)  You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing them return receipt mail, and telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. The debt collection agency may also notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.

2)  Debt collection agencies may NOT contact you outside the hours of  8:00 AM and 9:00 PM.

3)  Debt collection agencies may NOT contact you at unreasonable places.

4)  Debt collection agencies may NOT contact you at work if you have told them that your employer does not approve of the contact.

5)  Debt collection agencies may NOT misrepresent themselves as agents of the government, attorneys, or as employees of credit bureaus.  They can't use false names either, although many do.

6)  Debt collection agencies may NOT make false statements.  For example they may not imply that you have committed a crime (since you have not done so).  They can't say that you'll go to jail, they can't lie about the status of legal documents they are sending you, and they can't say they'll garnish your wages.

7) Debt collection agencies may NOT contact other people about you except to find out where you live or work.  They cannot reveal how much debt you owe to other people or publish a list of people who have bad debt.  They cannot slander your reputation.

8) Debt collection agencies may NOT verbally abuse you, threaten your life, or use profanity.

9) Debt collection agencies may NOT cause your telephone to ring and ring, or engage any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.

Report violations from a debt collector to your state Attorney General's office to determine your rights.
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