Dealing With Debt Collectors
(NAPS)—If you’re behind in
paying your bills, you can expect
to hear from a debt collector. This
includes collection agencies,
lawyers who collect debts on a
regular basis, and companies that
buy delinquent debts and then try
to collect them.
What Are My Rights?
The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC), the nation’s consumer pro-
tection agency, enforces the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act,
which requires that debt collectors
treat you fairly when trying to col-
lect on personal, family and Federal law requires that debt
household debts. This includes collectors treat you fairly when
money you owe on a personal trying to collect on personal,
credit card account, an auto loan, family and household debts.
a medical bill or your mortgage.
In short: lector must contact the attorney
•A debt collector may contact rather than you. If you don’t have
you in person, by mail, telephone, an attorney, a collector may con-
telegram or fax, but may not con- tact other people only to find out
tact you at inconvenient times or your address, your phone number
places—for example, before 8 a.m. and where you work.
or after 9 p.m.—unless you agree. A •Debt collectors may not
debt collector may not contact you harass, oppress or abuse you or
at work if the collector is aware any third parties they contact
that your employer prohibits it. about you.
•Debt collectors must send you •A debt collector may not lie or
a written “validation notice” mislead anyone when collecting a
telling you how much money you debt. For example, a debt collector
owe within five days after they may not threaten to have you
first contact you. This notice must arrested.
also include the name of the credi- Where Do I Report Violations?
tor to whom you owe the money If you think that a debt collec-
and how to proceed if you don’t tor has violated the law, report it
think you owe the money. to the FTC. File your complaint at
•If a debt collector is trying to www.ftc.gov/complaint. Your com-
collect more than one debt from plaint gives law enforcement a
you, the collector must apply any lead to follow up on and may stop
payment you make to the debt you it from happening to someone
select. Equally important, a debt else.
collector may not apply a payment For more tips on credit and debt,
to a debt you don’t think you owe. visit www.ftc.gov/MoneyMatters or
•If an attorney is representing call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
you about the debt, the debt col- (1-877-382-4357).
Did You Know?
Consumers have rights Managing debt is key to devel-
when it comes to debt collec- oping a sound financial plan. ///
tion. To learn more, visit Dealing With Debt Collectors