Debt collectors, your credit and your rights!

Okay.. who doesn’t have a credit card?
Show of hands.. have you ever been late on a payment?
Have you ever gotten so far behind you started getting calls from bill collectors?
(You can put your hands down now.. I really can’t see them anyway).

My point is a lot of people are in debt. Many consumers owe a lot of money.
And debt collectors make a living sometimes trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip.
This is not to say you shouldn’t pay your bills. Of course you should. You buy it.. you should pay for it. Nothing is free. But there are also laws protecting consumers from unscrupulous collectors. The Texas Debt Collection Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act each outline what your rights are, what debt collectors can and can not do when trying to collect a debt you may or may not owe.

I want to share some of the e-mails I received recently on the subject.

Dear Amy:
You probably receive a ton of emails and requests for help, so I will be brief.
Unfortunately, due to health reasons and having missed work and income, I am behind on payments for my furniture contract. The lender/store, Star Furniture, has contacted my neighbor, stating who they are and asking if and when they had seen me, and left their phone number. This neighbor, however, is not one of my references listed on the contract. Can they legally do that or have they crossed the line into invasion of privacy and deceptive trade practices? It was very embarrassing to hear from my neighbor that so and so called asking for me, since the nature of the call is very clear. What can or should I do?
Thank you in advance for your advice. Something like this has never happened to me so I am unsure on how to proceed.


Here’s the answer:
Debt collectors can contact your neighbors, but only to get location information for you. They can, for instance, tell your neighbor who they are and ask your neighbor where you are.. if they have seen you, etc. They can not disclose that you owe money or that you are behind on your payments.
Now.. if this collector knows where you are. If they have your phone numbers and addresses and even spoken with you recently.. then it would seem they are only contacting your neighbors to sort of intimidate, embarrass or harrass you. You could have a case against the collector for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Another woman from Willis wanted to know if her cell phone was off-limits to debt collectors.

Hello- I’m not sure if this has happened to anyone else but….
We’ve had some financial problems are seriously deliquent in credit card payments. That aside, it appears that some creditors have discovered the technology to manipulate my own personal cell phone. I will get a call showing my name and number on my caller ID. I’ve attempted to answer the call and the line is dead. Within a few moments the line will ring again and it will be from a creditor. This has happened about six times since last Thursday. I know I am not in the “right” with my financial situation, however is this legal?

My answer:
There are no laws preventing debt collectors from calling your cell phone. You can, however, ask collectors not to call you on specific numbers.. and under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, they must comply.
The only way to stop them from calling you on your cell phone (or any other phone) is to send a stop calling letter.

The Texas Attorney General spells out the rules under the Texas Debt Collection Act here:
http://www.oag.state.tx.us/AG_Publications/txts/debt.shtml

You can find some of the laws covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act here:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.shtm

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One Response

  1. Great, thank you for taking the time to write this. It has helped me out alot so far need to find more posts like it.

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