Missourians who are in debt and have fallen behind on their payments will not only dread the future and worry about how they will catch up on what they owe, but they will be fearful of the seemingly never-ending stream of phone calls about that debt. To prevent debt collectors from overstepping legal bounds, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is in place. However, overwhelmed and expecting to be hounded, debtors are frequently unaware of when these debt collectors are violating the law and what the FDCPA does to protect them.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its report to U.S. lawmakers as to the most common complaints from debtors. In 2018, there were around 84,500 complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about violations. This was a reduction from 88,000 the previous year. The most common complaint at 39 percent was when debt collectors tried to collect a debt the debtor does not owe. If this occurs, the person can request verification of the debt. It must be sent within 30 days of the first notice of the debt.
Next at 22 percent is written notification of a debt. After the debt collector has made contact, it has five days to send written notice with how much is owed; the original creditor; and a statement of description regarding the debtor’s rights to dispute it. At 13 percent was communication tactics. The debt collector is legally barred from harassing contact. The courts must decide how many calls are too many, but if the debtor thinks there is harassment or calls beyond normal hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the FDCPA has protections in place.
At 11 percent were debt collector threats that actions would be taken. That can include criminal proceedings, a legal filing, garnishing of wages, jail and damage to the credit rating. They might not have the authority to do this and it is commonly illegal. At four percent is the threat to inform others of what the debtor owes. That includes calling colleagues, neighbors, friends and relatives. If they call, there are limits on the information they can request and they cannot discuss the debt.
People who are in debt should remember their rights under FDCPA. This is a beneficial step to prevent debt collectors from behaving illegally and compounding the problems the debtor is already facing from being in debt. For help with this situation and any other financial concern, a law firm that understands the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and debt relief should be called.