While a formal bankruptcy filing is the most comprehensive way to stop collection calls and other activity, there are laws concerning debt collection you should be aware of that might help reduce some types of calls prior to filing.
Important: If a debt collector has violated any of the regulations listed below, or if you have a question about suspicious collection activity, please let us know.
Federal law prohibits debt collectors from calling once you tell them in writing to stop (although they can send one last letter as a final demand). Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a collection agency may not act in the following ways:
- A collection agency cannot contact anyone other than the debtor, the debtors attorney or a credit bureau for any reason other than to locate the debtor.
- They cannot in any way disclose to a third party that the purpose of their call is to collect a debt.
- They cannot make repeated calls to third parties unless they believe they have received incorrect information or that party has a reason to supply new information.
- They cannot mail information to third parties that may reveal the nature of their reason for contacting them.
- Unless you grant a collection agency permission to do so, once you have an attorney representing you, the agency is no longer permitted to contact you directly.
- Collection agents cannot contact you before 8:00am or after 9:00pm.
- If your employer prohibits such calls, notify the collection agent and they will not be allowed to contact you at your place of employment in the future.
- Agents cannot threaten violence or use abusive language. They cannot call repeatedly without identifying themselves as bill collectors.
- They cannot make false or misleading statements such as, threatening to seize property to which they have no right to attach a claim. They cannot threaten criminal prosecution. Another example would be to send you documents that appear to be court filings or other official papers.
- Agents cannot offer incentives to disclose information.
Again, make a note of any activity that appears to violate these rules and let us know.
Finally, some tips about lawsuits. Remember that while a collection agency can threaten to sue you, a judgment against you is similar to any other debt and can generally be discharged in bankruptcy. Also, be aware that if your primary source of income is from social security or a disability, a lawsuit will have little influence. So, if you are seriously contemplating bankruptcy, dont let a creditor that threatens a lawsuit significantly alter your overall game plan. Talk to us about it if you arent sure that to do.