Top Practices That Are Illegal for Debt Collectors

The average American has more than $35,000 in debt, which does not include their home mortgage. The most common types of debt are credit card, personal loan, and student loan debt. Unfortunately, millions of debtors are unable to pay their bills for a variety of reasons. When a person cannot pay their bills, their account is sent to a debt collection agency.

Most interactions with debt collection agencies are extremely unpleasant, but it is important to know that there are laws these agencies must follow to respect your rights. If you are being contacted by a debt collector, here are top practices that many use that are considered illegal.

Not Sending a Written Notification of Debt

As soon as a debt collector contacts a debtor, unless they provide every piece of required information over the phone, they are legally required to send the debtor a written notification of debt within five days. The written notification must include information such as:

  • The total amount of debt you owe
  • The name of the creditor to whom your debt is owed
  • Detailed instructions on how to dispute your debt

It is important to understand that just because you receive a written notification of debt does not mean you actually owe the debt. In cases of medical debt, the insurance company is often responsible for the payment and all the debtor needs to do is file the claim again to have it paid. You can also dispute the debt with the debt collector, and if you do so in writing, the debt collector is legally required to cease all collection efforts until they are able to obtain and mail to you proper verification of the debt.  If they can’t acquire that, then they can’t contact you again.

Over-the-Phone Harassment

If a debt collector is contacting you over the phone, they must contact you during waking hours which are between 8am-9pm. Likewise, it is illegal for debt collectors to repeatedly call you and harass you by calling too many times. Unfortunately, there is no outline regarding the exact number of times a debt collector is allowed to call you. If you feel as though you’re being harassed by a debt collector, it is essential to keep record of their calls and present your case to a trusted attorney.

Threatened Legal Action

When a person fails to settle their debt with a debt collector they can be subject to wage garnishment and other financial consequences. However, it is illegal for debt collectors to threaten these actions if they don’t intend to carry them out and if they do not have the legal authority to do so. If you are receiving threats from a debt collection agency, it is in your best interest to call an attorney to look into your case. All too often debt collectors make baseless threats or misleading representations in effort to intimidate consumers into simply paying what the debt collector is demanding, rather than take advantage of their rights.

Revealing Your Debt to a Third-Party

Many people who receive calls from debt collectors avoid picking up the phone in hopes that their debts will disappear. Debt collectors have the authority to call those closest to debtors if they cannot reach them. Such contracts often include:

  • Parents
  • Guardians
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Spouses
  • Adult children

Although a debt collector can contact these people, there are strict requirements they must follow during such a communication, and they do not have the authority to disclose any information about your debts. If the details of a debt (such as the amount, the creditor, or the terms of the agreement) are revealed, you can take legal action against them.

Contact a Knowledgeable Debt Settlement Attorney Near You

While a debt collector’s violation of the collection law does not make a debt go away if it is legitimately owed in the first place, a knowledgeable attorney can use it to their advantage to help settle your debts, or otherwise provide you with compensation.  If you suspect a debt collector may be violating your rights, reach out to McCarthy Law for a free consultation.  Or, if you’re just tired of receiving call after call regarding your debt and want to carry your phone without fearing another call, you need to contact a knowledgeable debt settlement attorney. The attorneys at McCarthy Law PLC are knowledgeable regarding debt matters and will educate you on options designed to work in your favor. We will use our experience to help eliminate your debt through settlement options, including

Debt settlement is one of the smartest choices you can make for your future if you’re drowning in student loan or other debt. Experienced attorneys will stop creditors from harassing you and find a solution that leads to financial freedom. McCarthy Law PLC offers free consultations, so there’s no risk involved in learning your options for resolving everything from credit card debt to private student loan debt. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 855-976-5777 or complete our contact form.

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Joe Panvini

Joe Panvini

Joe received his law degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in 2010. On behalf of consumers, he has successfully briefed and argued complex consumer law issues in both individual and class action lawsuits. Joe is admitted to practice in Arizona and Washington, as well as numerous federal courts across the country, including the Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals.