Watch out for debt collectors calling your friends and family
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Wilmington consumers should be aware of their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, called the FDCPA for short. Dealing with debt you can’t afford to pay is frustrating and stressful, and the last thing you need is for other people to learn about your debt dilemma without your knowledge. In fact, debt collectors should not be contacting your family and other contacts except under certain circumstances.
When and How Debt Collectors May Contact You
Creditors and debt collectors have the right to contact Wilmington consumers about past-due obligations, but they must do so according to the tenets of the law. The ways they may contact you about debt include:
1 – You can be contacted at home, at work, on your cell phone, and via mail.
2 – You may be contacted via phone (land line or cell) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
3 – You may be contacted at work during reasonable hours.
When and How Debt Collectors May NOT Contact You
There are also rules and laws guiding what creditors and debt collectors may not do while trying to collect money that you owe. There are laws to protect Wilmington consumers from harassing and abusive contact, and these include:
1 – Collectors may not curse, harass, or makes threats of violence.
2 – Collectors cannot threaten arrest, pretend to be a lawyer or from the government.
3 – Collectors can’t tell others about your debt.
4 – Collector cannot claim to be calling you for other reasons or call very early or late.
When Can Debt Collectors Contact Friends or Relatives About You?
It’s under very rare circumstances that debt collectors, acting within the law, can contact anyone other than you about your debt. Under the FDCPA and local laws, debt collectors can contact someone else about your debt only if they have no contact information for you.
For instance, if you moved and left no forwarding address, creditors and debt collectors have the right to try and find your new address. If you changed your home or cell number, so they have no valid number to contact you, they can try and find out your new contact information.
However, if you know a creditor or debt collector has your correct contact information, it is against the law for them to contact anyone else about you. Also, the creditor or collector can’t tell the person they contact that they are collecting a debt, what you owe, or that you’re behind on the debt.
How Do Debt Collectors Know Your Family or Other Contacts to Call?
As a Wilmington consumer, you might fill out forms for new credit or debt without carefully reading everything you sign if it looks like standard “boilerplate” language. When you go to a new doctor, you might notice they ask for an emergency contact.
When you apply for debt, you might be asked for the name and phone number of the closest relative not living with you. All this information feeds the debt collection machine if you stop paying what you owe. Debt collectors use all the information you provide to fuel their efforts.
How to stop debt collectors from reaching out to your contacts
First, Wilmington consumers should know that unscrupulous debt collectors acting outside the law won’t play fair. Not all debt collectors violate the law, but plenty of them do. These tips can help you deal with collection agents that abide by the FDCPA.
To deal with those breaking the law, you might need the help of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Here is what you can do to protect your financial privacy during debt collection efforts:
1 – Don’t avoid creditor phone calls. Answer the phone and tell them you can’t pay the debt.
2 – For calls at work, you can tell them you can’t get personal calls, and they must stop.
3 – If you want calls on your cell or at home to stop, you must request it in writing.
Be aware that if you limit the creditor or debt collector’s options to contact you and cut them down to just letters, they might decide to take the next step and sue you to try and collect the debt.
End Debt Collector Harrassment for Good
The fastest and longest lasting solution to shutting down debt collectors is to pay the debt – or file Wilmington bankruptcy. If you have the money to pay your bills, you probably already would have done so. If your debt is out of control, bankruptcy stops all collection effort fast.
The moment your North Carolina bankruptcy lawyer files your debt petition, the collection efforts must stop, by law. If a debt collector calls after you file, you just tell them you filed bankruptcy. They will usually end the call and never call back. You may need to provide your case number so they can confirm.
If a debt collector calls back after you told them you filed bankruptcy, they are violating federal bankruptcy law, and each illegal call after that can cost them thousands of dollars in fines that can go right in your pocket if you pursue legal recourse against them.
To find out more about the benefits of bankruptcy, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. Call +1-919-646-2654 now for a free Wilmington bankruptcy consultation at one of our convenient locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.