Dealing With Debt Collectors? You’re Not Alone
If you’re suddenly receiving phone calls from one or more debt collection agencies, you’re not alone. Approximately one in seven Americans is currently dealing with a collections agency attempting to collect on an unpaid debt, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
While many Americans receive calls from debt collectors, few people know their legal rights when subjected to debt collector harassment. What should you do when you are receiving repeated, harassing phone calls?
The debt collection field has exploded in recent years. As a result of changes in the credit industry, many debts are now dealt with by someone other than the original creditor. This means that if you’ve had trouble paying any personal debt – a credit card, a student loan, a utility bill, or a medical bill – you might not be dealing with the company to which you actually owed the original debt.
After trying to collect on a debt for a few weeks or months, many businesses like banks, hospitals, and utility companies will sell their debts to a third-party debt collection agency. The third-party agency will try to collect on the debt itself or sell the debt again.
Sometimes, a debt may be sold multiple times, putting you several steps away from the original creditor and leaving you even more confused. By this point, you might have paid the debt already. Worse, information may have gotten confused in transit and a debt collector may be contacting you about a debt you never owed. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, as little as 6 percent of the debt purchased in 2009 had supporting documentation attached.
What should you do if you’re contacted by a debt collector? Consider these tips:
- Dispute the debt, especially if it seems fishy. Within five days of contacting you, a debt collector is required to provide a “validation” notice. This notice should contain basic information like the amount owed, the name of the original creditor, and who to contact if you want to dispute the debt in writing. If you don’t recognize the creditor or amount, it’s wise to dispute it.
- Fight back against abusive collection practices. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and many state laws, like the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), prohibits debt collectors from using a number of abusive or misleading tactics to collect debt. If you’re being threatened or harassed, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and seek help from an experienced lawyer.
- Work with an attorney. Many businesses will offer to help you settle your debt. A licensed attorney, however, is held to standards of confidentiality that other debt settlement businesses are not, helping protect you while you get your finances back on track. An experienced attorney can also help by communicating with debt collectors on your behalf and even helping you seek damages if you’ve been harassed or abused by debt collectors.
At Disparti Law Group, our Florida debt fighters help you regain your peace of mind and put an end to debt collector harassment. Contact us online or call 888-717-0547 to fight back against debt harassment.