Around the country, many people are falling on hard times financially. The value of a dollar continues to decline while prices of fuel, food and just about everything else continue to rise. Household budgets simply do not have the breathing room that they used to have and Americans are falling further into debt.
With no money to spare, many people have been relying on credit cards just to get by. The problem is that when the credit card bills come, there is often no money left in the budget to pay them; therefore, it is easy to fall behind on debt obligations while trying to stretch the shrinking dollar and make the same paycheck cover more territory. In these circumstances, if a financial or medical emergency occurs, it can really cause financial distress and many times lead to bankruptcy.
Many people end up owing debts that they cannot possibly pay. If consumer debt and medical bills are overwhelming, the effects can radiate through every aspect of daily life. When debt collectors begin calling, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety.
When a debt collector attempts to collect a debt, even if they are not breaking the law, it can feel like harassment. Debt collectors often try hardball tactics that cross the line, and it is helpful to understand the law in order to know what can be done to regain some peace of mind.
A local bankruptcy lawyer can help you explore how to take control of the situation, including how The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) lays out clear rules that all third party debt collectors must follow.
The FDCPA is federal law that allows consumers to sue if their rights are violated by unfair debt collection practices.
Some key points of the FDCPA include:
If a debtor is being contacted by debt collection agencies, it is always a good idea to document all communications. All letters and receipts should be kept in a file, as well as copies of any checks that have been sent as payment on the debt. Calls from creditors may be recorded, however it is important to check state law regarding taped phone calls and a debtor should always advise the debt collector that the call is being recorded. Each state has different laws regarding the taping of telephone conversations and it is essential that taping be done within the law. A list of state-by-state laws regarding the taping of telephone conversations is available at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
If a debt collector is in violation of the FDCPA, a report may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting the website or calling 1-877-382-4357. The FTC also publishes a free Fair Debt Collection fact sheet that can be requested by phone or viewed online.
In addition to the federal FDCPA, each state also has laws pertaining to fair debt collection practices. A local bankruptcy lawyer may help consumers who need clarification of state laws and accepted debt collection practices.
When a debtor feels that a debt collector has violated the law, a report should be filed with the state Attorney General's office as well as the FTC. A debt collector who has violated state or federal law should also be reported to the Better Business Bureau.
If a debt collector has violated a debtor's rights they may be sued in state or federal court within one year of the date of the violation. A bankruptcy lawyer can advise debtors as to what action they should take when a debt collector has crossed the line and broken state of federal law.
If you are tired of harassing phone calls from debt collectors, be sure to get in touch with a local bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Simply fill out our free form or call 877-349-1309, and we'll help you get in touch with one of our sponsoring local bankruptcy attorneys who can help you explore your options.