Know your rights with debt collectors

Owing debt is hard enough on its own. Throw in someone calling you about it 24/7 and you’ve got a miserable situation on your hands. You can keep debt collectors from calling. Legally. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices. You just need to know your rights under this law.

Know what they can — and can’t — do
A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree to it. Collectors may also not contact you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to receive calls there. They are also prohibited from making harassing or false statements, or engaging in unfair practices.

Write a letter
Collectors must give you their mailing address on request. Use it to send a letter saying not to contact you anymore. Make a copy of your letter and send the original by certified mail. Pay for a return receipt so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Going forward, the collector may only contact you to say there will be no further contact. Or they can let you know they or the creditor intend to take a specific action like filing a lawsuit.

Hire an attorney
If you’re working with an attorney on the debt, the collector must contact them rather than you. If you don’t have an attorney, a collector may contact other people. But only to find out your address, home phone number and place of employment.

While sending a letter or hiring an attorney does not get rid of the debt, it should stop the contact. The creditor can still sue you to collect. If you feel like a creditor is in violation, report it to the N.C. Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.

Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact a financial advisor for additional guidance.