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Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers

If
you’re behind in paying your bills, or a creditor’s records mistakenly
make it appear that you are, a debt collector may be contacting you.

The
Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection
agency, enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which
prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive
practices to collect from you.

Under the FDCPA, a
debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others.
This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a
regular basis, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to
collect them.

Here are some questions and answers about your rights under the Act.

What types of debts are covered?

The Act covers personal, family, and household debts, including money
you owe on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical
bill, and your mortgage. The FDCPA doesn’t cover debts you incurred to
run a business.

Can a debt collector contact me any time or any place?

No. A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or
places, such as before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night, unless you
agree to it. And collectors may not contact you at work if they’re told
(orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to get calls there.

How can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?

If a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them
at least once to see if you can resolve the matter – even if you don’t
think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the
collector is contacting you by mistake. If you decide after contacting
the debt collector that you don’t want the collector to contact you
again, tell the collector – in writing – to stop contacting you. Here’s
how to do that:

Make a copy of your letter. Send the
original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be
able to document what the collector received. Once the collector
receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two
exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no
further contact or to let you know that they or the creditor intend to
take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit. Sending such a letter to
a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it
should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can
sue you to collect the debt.

Can a debt collector contact anyone else about my debt?

If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector
must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you don’t have an
attorney, a collector may contact other people – but only to find out
your address, your home phone number, and where you work. Collectors
usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once.
Other than to obtain this location information about you, a debt
collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone
other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.

What does the debt collector have to tell me about the debt?

Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you
how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you.
This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe
the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

Can a debt collector keep contacting me if I don’t think I owe any money?

If you send the debt collector a letter stating that you don’t owe any
or all of the money, or asking for verification of the debt, that
collector must stop contacting you. You have to send that letter within
30 days after you receive the validation notice. But a collector can
begin contacting you again if it sends you written verification of the
debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe.

For more information go to:  www.GrantsNow400.com

Nancy Geils


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