Know Your Rights: 5 Out Of Bound Actions Good Debt Collectors Will Never Do
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Getting a loan is a two-way process: you need lenders so you can borrow money for your immediate needs while lenders need consumers like you to benefit their businesses. With this, you have the right to fair treatment, from acquiring the right loan that will work best for your financial needs to repaying the amount you owe with no hidden costs.
In the event you fail to keep up with your payments, the lender might be forced to commission a debt collection agency to persuade you into paying your debts. Debt collectors have the reputation of being intimidating but this doesn’t mean you have to permit it, especially when they are already harming not just your wallet but your peace of mind as well. They should be following rules and regulations that respect the rights of consumers.
If you’re dealing with a debt collector, when will you draw the line between a committed collector and an abusive and deceptive one? To exercise your consumer rights and protect you from paying what you didn’t owe, here are five demeaning actions of bad debt collectors you should never tolerate.
Contact you at wrong circumstances
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It is advised to discuss all information about the debt over the phone. With this, certain phone call regulations have to be observed. As a consumer, you may decline a call if its timing violates the agreement or if it’s intended to annoy, threaten, and harass you.
In the U.S., all collectors must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). As stated in the act, the proper time for contacting consumers shouldn’t be earlier than 8:00 a.m. and not later than 9:00 p.m. Collectors should also not contact or engage in a phone conversation repeatedly, especially during the consumers’ work hours.
Face-to-face or home visits should only take place if necessary. It is also stated that once the consumer has already stated in the paper that he or she doesn’t want to be contacted anymore, the debt collector has to stop engaging with the consumer.
Disclose private information to other people
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Debt collectors have no right to reveal any information about the nature of your debt and other confidential statements to other people. Your lawyer, spouse, and guardians (if you’re a minor) are the only individuals whom your collectors may talk to regarding your debt status.
Collectors may refer to third parties in order to reach you. However, they are not allowed to do it more than once. Only significant information such as home and work address and contact number should be asked.
Furthermore, any action that may cause public humiliation on your end is considered unlawful Publishing your name or address on a “bad debt” list or sending you postcards that cause embarrassment are some examples.
Falsely claim to work for government agencies
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Debt collectors are not allowed to pretend to work for the law enforcement, federal and state government agencies, or credit bureaus just to force you to pay. With that being said, debt collectors have no right to threaten you with arrests and legal actions if you fail to repay your debts.
Collection agencies are not authorized to issue arrest warrants just because you default on your loan. Only a court judge has the jurisdiction to declare arrest warrants and put you in jail, usually due to your failure to show up in court to settle your debts. What debt collectors can do is inform you if a lawsuit has been filed against you and provide you with a legitimate court summons to support the claim.
In addition, always watch out for other forms of fraud like forged documents or false information about the debt collection company. Read the fine print carefully and always keep track of the papers they send you.
Misrepresenting the amount you owe
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Be mindful of collectors who force you to pay for the debts you either didn’t owe or you’re not required to repay anymore. These old debts, also called “zombie debts,” are the ones sold by your original creditors or lenders to a debt collection company, which they still try to collect.
Some debt collectors might rely on incorrect information and try to collect debts which have already been discharged in bankruptcy or may belong to other consumers with an identical name. Some bad debt collectors also add interest, fee, and other charges on top of the amount you owe.
Before paying such unfamiliar debts, you should be able to receive a written notice within five days of the first encounter stating how much you owe, the name of your lender, and your repayment options.
Use profane words and actions
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While it is the debt collector’s duty to make a demand for payment, it is not part of their job to treat you less of a human being for your unpaid debts. It’s never acceptable for collectors to threaten consumers with violence or harm, deliver messages in a rude and vulgar manner, and receive obscene and degrading remarks in the course of the communication about debts.
Like other young adults, Carmina Natividad also experiences struggles in saving money, yet she finds a way to become a responsible spender. She shares her views on money issues by being a daytime writer for Speedy Money, an Australian-based business, providing short-term borrowing solutions.