When you’re deep in debt, it may seem like your creditors are an ever-present part of your life…showing up where and when you least expect them. The calls and letters alone can leave your reeling, and feeling, used and abused.
As we’ve already seen in the first two parts of the four-part series, “Creating a Barrier to Bill Collectors,” unsecured creditors, the ones at the bottom of the financial food chain, are more likely to be the ones contacting you via phone, sending you letters, and generally harassing you for cash, any cash, where and when they can. We’ve already examined how many unsecured debt collecting strategies are simply veiled threats and how to actually use Federal law to stop the harassment altogether; and now it’s time to address the limits of when and where creditors can contact you.
So when can debt collectors contact you?
To temper their harassment, bill collectors must tell you that they’re calling from a collection agency. In addition, they must identify the original creditor and the amount you owe. Further, they must tell you that you have 30 days to dispute the debt.
While these are the things they can say, there are limits to when they can say it. As a general rule, debt collectors can only contact you at “reasonable times.” Namely, they can’t call you when they have reason to believe it’s inconvenient (read: not late at night or early in the morning); nor can they get in touch with you when they are aware than an attorney is representing you.
This deterrent is in place even when a bill collector calls during traditionally “convenient times.” For example, in a situation where a bill collector calls, you can tell the bill collector you’re busy. Upon hearing this, if the bill collector does not end the call, arguably they are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a Federal law discussed in detail earlier in this series. The same is true if someone other than you answers the phone to tell the debt collector you’re asleep or otherwise indisposed. And, in general, bill collectors can’t call, write or visit you if you send them “cease and desist” letter asking them to stop communicating with you. While the letter doesn’t end your obligation to your creditor, this simple letter should do the trick to stop the collector’s abuse. To ensure receipt, send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, and send a copy to your creditor.
The law also limits where creditors can come a’calling, including places that are inconvenient for your or might cause undue embarrassment. As a result, generally creditors are not allowed to address your debts at your workplace. This bar on embarrassing the debtor extends to third parties as well. With the exception of spouses, guardians and your trusted attorney, bill collectors cannot contact others about your debt; this treatment extends to your parents (if you’re not a minor), siblings, grandparents and extended family or friends.
A qualified bankruptcy attorney can be a great friend to your when creditors come calling , yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a viable and secure financial future. The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.