If you owe money to a collections agency of any type, you’re in good company. According to CNBC, the average American family owes over $145,000 dollars in debt to various different lenders, many of which include student loans, personal loans, credit card debt loans, and more. If you are a member of the general population who has higher amounts of consumer debt, it’s likely that you have had to deal with unpleasant encounters with collection agencies. Often, these agencies may use annoyance, persistence, or other tactics to try to bring the account to currency. You may feel pressured or as if you have no alternative option besides answering the phone and paying the price. Ascent Law wants to ensure that you know how to protect your interests as you go through various debt collection processes. In this article, we discuss how to protect yourself in debt collection situations, and what you should know about creditors and lenders.
What are creditors?
Did you know that credit card and mortgage companies are not considered debt collectors? In fact, they are creditors. The debt collection processes come in once the amount you owe is sold to a third-party debt collection agency for follow-up. This will often happen if there has been a long period of delinquency. Even in these situations, you do have rights and different methods of resolution. Understanding your options can be the difference between resolving your debt or falling deeper into fees and interest charges.
What is the average debt collection process?
Before a debt collector can file a court case or pursue legal action for repayment, they must notify the debtor. The time needed to notify the debtor varies depending on the state that the dispute is in, however, on average the debtor will have 30 days to either dispute the notice or get verification of the amount owed. It is within your rights and to your advantage to do either of these options, as it will show a history of action vs. non-action.
When possible, it is best to avoid a court case for debt collection resolution. You may be able to work with your collector by arranging a pre-determined payment plan. Our law firm can assist you in coming to a binding agreement with whatever collections entity that you are working with. However, in some cases, debt collectors may resort to illegal practices to try to secure payment. They feel free to do this because many debtors are not aware of their rights.
What is the FDCPA?
The FDCPA, otherwise known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, protects you from being targeted by collectors’ illegal attempts to collect on a. debt. The provisions of the agreement cover debt related to:
- Mortgage delinquencies
- Medical delinquencies
- Credit card delinquencies
- Other personal consumer-based debts and delinquencies
There are many regulations that must be adhered to in the agreement, which we will cover below.
Time and place restrictions under the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They are also prohibited from contacting you over any time that they know will be inconvenient for you, such as during dinner hour or while you are at work.
False statement restrictions under the FDCPA
Debt collectors may not lie to you in an attempt to collect a debt. This includes making false statements, including:
- Claiming to be a government official or attorney
- Claiming that you are breaking a law by being in debt
- Claiming to operate a credit reporting company
- Claiming to garnish, seize, or otherwise diminish your wages or financial standing
- Claiming that there is false government agency documentation on your case or using false documentation to communicate with you
Of course, false statement cases must be proven. If you think that you have been given false information by a debt collector, you may contact the FTC, the state’s attorney general, or the CFPB online or by phone to clarify and protect your rights.
Defenses and considerations about your debt
If a court case has been filed against you in an attempt to collect a debt, you are within your rights to contest it. There are several defenses and considerations to review in the event that there is a case open. For example:
- The related debt may be falsely attributed to your account
- The defendant or collector canceled the contract, invalidating the case
- The claims are barred because it is past the six-year period to take action on a debt
- The debt has been excused
- Possible co-signers were not informed of their rights and responsibility to the debts
Ascent law can help in cases of debt collection rights violation
At Ascent Law, we know that debt collection is a very personal matter. We are here to walk you through every step of the way, from collection attempts to account resolution. We want to ensure that your rights are protected at every step in the process, no matter how much debt you may find yourself in. For more information, please contact us today at (801) 432-8682. We are happy to book a free intro call with you and discuss your legal recourse.