I will preface the following information by being perfectly clear that I am NOT providing legal advice. A consumer does not need to retain legal services in order to handle many debt collection issues. With that said, if you are facing legal action, you need to retain legal assistance. That means, hire an attorney that specializes in this area of law.
Need help with dealing with debt collectors calling? Have you lost your job? Laid off? Medical issues? Divorce? There are many reasons why someone may not be able to pay all of their bills. Once a bill hasn’t been paid it may be turned over to a third-party debt collector. When this happens, it helps to know how to handle the situation.
Okay! Let’s get equipped. You need a notepad, pen and keep it with you at all times. I suggest that you record your calls just so you can review the call for complete notes. If you want to use the recording for a lawsuit be sure and check the laws for One Party State or Two Party State for recording calls. Check for apps available to install on your cell phone. Droid has a free one, RECORD MY CALL. This begins recording as soon as the call is activated. Now that you are ready for the calls, answer them.
1. STOPPING THE CALLS. Answer the phone. Ask the person on the other end of the line for their name, name of their company, their mailing address for disputes and their phone number; making notes of all that is said. Now that you have this information write a letter to the company telling them not to call you and if you have ever given them permission to call you, you revoke it now. Dispute the debt and ask for validation. I personally do not recommend sending a Cease and Desist letter. I recommend stopping the calls and receiving the mail. Mail it certified mail return receipt and be sure and keep accurate records and do not lose this documentation. Save a copy of the letter and on each certified mail receipt in a safe place. Once they have received the letter it is a violation for them to continue to call your phone. They can however, contact you again to inform you that they plan to take specific action against you, such as a lawsuit. In my opinion, I would welcome that call so that you would possibly have an opportunity to work out suitable payment arrangements before a suit is filed.
Please note: A Cease and Desist letter or a letter demanding that they no longer call you, does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it.
Now that the letters are mailed and received be sure and answer your calls documenting any voicemail or answered calls. Many times debt collectors will continue to call even after they legally are not supposed to. When this happens you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against them. There are attorneys that specialize in these cases on a Pro-Bono.
The FDCPA states that every time a collector contacts a debtor they must disclose who they are and what they are calling about. It helps keep collectors from being deceptive or misleading. This is known as the Mini-Miranda and generally goes as follows:
“THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT AND ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE. THIS IS A COMMUNICATION FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR”
Information to keep in mind. A debt collector can not legally:
- Call you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
- Harass you with excessive phone calls. Document with phone records.
- Receive phone calls at work, AFTER you have informed them not to call you there.
- Pretend to be an attorney, law firm or government agency.
- Inform others of your debt without expressed permission from you.
- Attempt to collect a debt from you that is not yours.
- Attempt to collect a debt that you have previously been sued for.
- Threaten to have you arrested. Tell you there has been a warrant sworn out for your arrest, especially when they haven’t. I see this with unpaid internet loans. These companies regularly do this and it’s against the law.
- Call you at a time or place that you have informed them is not convenient.
There are many things that debt collectors do that is not legal. If you find that you are in this situation please call us for help. There are many things that we can help you with, and when needed, you may need the assistance of an attorney. Call us today at 205-352-3448.