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Consumer Rights When Debt Collectors Call

When consumers receive phones calls from debt collectors, they may be embarrassed or overwhelmed, not sure what to do. Many consumers do not even realize even when they owe money, federal law protects them and grants them certain consumer rights.

First of all, it is illegal for any debt collector to  harass, oppress or abuse you or any third party they contact in order to collect money. No debt collector may use any threat of violence or harm, use obscene or profane language or repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone. Collectors are prohibited from publishing a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts. A debt collector may, however, give debt information to the credit reporting companies.

Additionally, debt collectors may not lie to you when trying to collect a debt. A collector may not falsely represent themselves and state they are government employees or attorneys; they may not falsely state you have committed a crime; they must not misrepresent the amount you owe among other practices.

Even though debt collectors have a right to collect on the debt owed, they do not have the right to arrest you if you don’t pay your debt. They also may not threaten to say they will seize, garnish, attach or sell your property or wages unless law permits them, to do so. In addition, a collector may not say they will take legal action against you if they don’t intend to so, or if doing so would be illegal.

Furthermore, the law prohibits debt collectors from trying to collect any interest or fees on top of the amount owed unless the contract you signed or a state law allows the charge. A collector may not deposit a post-dated check early not contact you by postcard.

If debt collectors are contacting you and you don’t know how to best handle them, you may want to talk with one of our experienced bankruptcy lawyers. You need to know your consumer rights before dealing with them. We can help lay out your options and help you deal with the debts owed.