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What is fair in debt
If you use credit cards, owe money
on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a "debtor."
If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your
accounts, you may be contacted by a "debt collector."
You should know that in either situation,
the federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain
methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not forgive any legitimate
debt you owe.
debts are covered?
Personal, family, and household debts
are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an
automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts.
Who is a debt
A debt collector is any person, other
than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. Because of
an amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this includes
attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.
How may debt
make contact with you?
A collector may contact you in person,
by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. However, a debt collector may not contact
you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.,
unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the
collector knows that your employer disapproves.
Can you stop a debt
from contacting you?
You can stop a collector from contacting
you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once
the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to
say there will be no further contact. The agency may notify you if the debt
collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
Can debt collectors
anyone else about your debt?
If you have an attorney, the debt collector
may not contact anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney,
a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live
and work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible
third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone
other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
What must the debt
tell you about the debt?
Within five days after you are first
contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount
of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and
what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.
May debt collectors
contact you even if you believe
you do not owe money?
A collector may not contact you if,
within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the collection agency
a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection
activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for
the amount owed.