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Debt Collection Frequently Asked Questions

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If you have been approached by a debt collector, you know it can be an intimidating and unpleasant occurrence. Part of the reason for this is that debt collectors use psychological tactics like creating a sense of anxiety and urgency to pressure you into resolving your debt.

As a result, if you’re feeling anxious you likely have questions about the debt collection practice that have not been answered because the collection was not done in a calm and collected way. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about debt collection.

When Can You be Contacted?

You cannot be contacted when the time or place is inconvenient to you, as well as before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. unless you explicitly inform them that that is okay. They might try to contact you at work, but you can tell them that you’re not allowed to get calls there and they will legally have to stop.

How Can You be Contacted?

You can be contacted by debt collectors via the telephone, letters, emails and texts.

A Collector is telling You that You can be Sued, is that true?

A debt collector is legally entitled to engage you in a lawsuit if you do not pay your debts. If a collector files a suit against you, you should respond to them (either individually or through a lawyer) by the specified date in the court papers to preserve your rights. You should know your rights to protect yourself from a debt lawsuit, as they can help to protect you down the line.

Can You Stop a Collector from Contacting You?

You can absolutely stop a collector from contacting you. Simply send a physical letter to a debt collector asking for contact to stop. You should make a copy of this letter and send it by mail with a return receipt, so you know the collector has received it.

Once they have received this letter, they are only allowed to contact you to confirm that they will stop contacting you and to inform you of an action (like filing a lawsuit). If you have an attorney, mention that you want all communication to go through your attorney and they will have to oblige.

What Information Do You Legally Need About a Debt?

If somebody is trying to collect a debt from you, they need to send you a validation notice within 5 days of the initial contact. This legally needs to tell you how much money you owe, to whom you owe the money and what you need to do if you don’t think the debt belongs to you.

What Should Collectors Never Do?

Debt collectors must abide by strict rules not to harass you. They should never:

  • Threaten you
  • Use obscene language
  • Repeatedly call you in a way that is annoying and unfair
  • Misrepresent the amount that you owe
  • Lie about representing the government
  • Claim you will be arrested if there is no proof for this.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash