Debt collection attorneys can inform you that as per FDCPA norms, any debt collector can contact you by mail, in person, by telegram or telephone only during “appropriate hours” i.e. generally between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Also, within 5 days of 1st contact with you, the debt collector is expected to send you a written notice informing you:
The amount of money you reportedly owe,
Name of the creditor to whom you owe debt,
That if within 30 days of receiving the notice, you do not dispute the validity of the debt or any portion of it, the debt is assumed valid by the debt collector,
If you dispute the debt in part or whole within the 30 day period, the debt collector will obtain the verification of debt in question and mail to the consumer, and
Upon your written request within 30 day period, debt collector will provide you with the name and address of original creditor, in case it is different from the current creditor.
It is mandatory for the 1st notice to include specific notices including a statement that the communication is from a debt collector and that any information obtained may be used for debt collection. Apart from pleadings associated with legal action, any and all communication from the debt collector must include this warning.
However, as per debt collection attorneys, the 30 day notice period requirement does not restrict the debt collector from taking other measures to collect the debt, including initiating a lawsuit against you.
What Are Debt Collectors Not Allowed to Do?
According to Los Angeles based law firm Recovery Law Group debt collectors cannot take misleading or deceitful actions against you including any action intended to harass or intimidate you. A debt collector cannot take any actions to force you to pay debt against your will. These actions include:
Threaten you with referring your account to an attorney, harming your credit rating, repossession threats without actual intention of acting on those threats.
Make repeated phone calls at unreasonable times or inconvenient places (workplace, hospital etc.)
Making calls at work place violating the employer’s policy and informing the employer about your debt.
Insulting you by using profanities, racial slurs or obscene insults.
Sending you letters which appear to have been from court.
Try to seek collection fees or interest charges despite them not being permitted by state law or your contract.
Request for post-dated checks with the purpose to prosecute if they bounce.
Make false claims for efforts to collect debt including false claims that person contacting you in relation to debt is an attorney, false claims of lawsuit, using false name or stationary to depict like an official court or government statement.
Collect information about you by pretending to be conducting a survey.
Threatening arrest on non-payment of dues.
Can Debt Collectors Enquire With Other People About Your Debt?
In case you don’t have an attorney to represent you, the debt collector can make only those inquiries which are essential to find out about your address, phone number and your place of work. In case your current address is not available, the debt collector has permission to send only 1 letter to your last known employer to enquire about your present address. The debt collector is allowed to contact your debt collection attorney or make only one inquiry about you with any given 3rd party.
How to Get Proof of Debt?
If, after receiving a written notice of debt from debt collector, you send the collection agency a letter within 30 days asking for proof of debt, then the collector has to stop contacting you. Points to remember are that the notice must be written and hand delivered or postmarked within 30 days of the 1st written notice from debt collector. The debt collector can recommence collection proceedings if you receive proof of debt like copy of a bill for the amount that the creditor claims.
Can You Stop Collectors from Contacting You?
In case you have a debt collection attorney, you can let all communications, including any inquiries, by the debt collectors be handled by them. After the debt collector receives instructions to pursue further communications via your attorney, they do not any longer have permission to make direct contact with you.
If you wish that the debt collector must stop contacting you, then you need to send them a written notice instructing them to stop. Post receiving the letter, the debt collection agency can make contact just one more time to notify you about the specific action with respect to the debt that the creditors or collection agency intends to take.
Sending of such notices doesn’t resolve the debt; the creditor may end up filing a law suit against you to collect the debt despite you prohibiting further contact by collection agency. However, you can get temporary relief from daily pestering calls.