Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are being hounded by debt collectors, it is important to understand what these third-party companies legally can and cannot do.
You have legal rights and there are limits to the lengths debt collectors can go to in attempts to collect the money their client is owed, but there are regulations that define what tactics these companies can and cannot use. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act details the dos and don’ts of debt collectors. If they violate these practices, you may be able to bring legal action against them. Contact a debt collection lawyer, like a debt collection lawyer in Tampa, FL, if you feel you are being excessively harassed and want to clarify what exactly are your legal rights in this situation.
Debt Collectors CAN:
- Medical bills and credit cards are considered unsecured debt and do have a statute of limitations. Seven years is usually the limit for bad items to appear on your credit report. After that, the debt will not show up on your credit report; however, the debt is still owed to your creditor and if they want to, they can sue you for the debt or still go through the proper legal means to get you to pay. Having the debt removed from your credit report will help your credit score.
- Debt collectors cannot mislead or threaten you, but they can pressure you to pay by calling you every day, sending many letters, or speak to you about the possibility of a lawsuit if you do not pay. All of these have to be done within the parameters of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
- A debt collector has the right to take you to court in order to get payment on a debt, which can result in levies on your bank account or your wages garnished.
- Debt collection companies can resell debts they haven’t been successful collecting. If you start getting calls from a different collector, that is probably what happened.
- Debt collectors can negotiate with you on the amount you owe. Whatever you agree on, make sure you get it in writing and request a paid-in-full statement.
Debt Collectors CANNOT:
- The debt collector cannot arrest you because of the debt you owe. However, if you are being sued and you neglect to show up for a court appearance, you will automatically lose your case and be ordered to pay the debt. If you do not comply with the court order the debt collector may ask for an arrest warrant.
- The debt collector has to be calling you for a legitimate debt you owe. If you believe you do not owe the debt they are contacting you about, contact an attorney because it is illegal. You should check your credit report to make sure that debt is not listed there.
- Debt collectors can call you at work but cannot physically come to your workplace. If they do call or come, and you request that they stop, they must legally comply with your wishes.
- Calling you at all hours, repeatedly, threatening you with violence, and using obscene or abusive language are all illegal under the FDCPA.
If you have debt collectors harassing you and don’t know where to turn, contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights and how to take steps to protect those rights.
Thanks to the Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL for their insight into what kind of behavior is inappropriate for debt collectors.