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September 27, 2022

Debt collectors

Who are debt collectors?

Debt collectors try to collect money you owe to someone else. Debt collectors must follow rules when they call you. If they do not follow the rules, you can complain about them to the Federal Trade Commission.

Can I stop debt collectors from bothering me?

You can ask a debt collector to stop calling you. Legally, they must stop. If they do not, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission.

What does a debt collector do?

A debt collector is someone who tries to collect money owed to someone else.

The company you owe money to hires a debt collector. The debt collector only makes money if he gets money from you. The debt collector starts calling you to get that money. If the debt collector does not get the money, he might take you to court.

What rules must debt collectors follow?

A law gives rules for debt collectors.  The law says that debt collectors:

  • Can call only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • cannot tell anyone else about your debt
  • can talk to someone else only to find out your address, home phone number, or where you work
  • cannot harass you – for example, they cannot curse at you or threaten to hurt you
  • cannot lie to you

The law also says debt collectors must send you a written notice about your debt. This is called a “validation notice.” The notice must say:

  • how much you owe
  • who you owe the money to
  • What to do if you do not owe the money

Are there problems with debt collectors?

The government gets complaints from thousands of people about debt collectors. Some of the complaints say debt collectors:

  • break the rules
  • threaten people
  • call the wrong person
  • lie while they try to collect a debt that is not yours

What can I do if a debt collector calls?

In case a debt collector calls:

  • Keep a notebook by your phone or with you.
  • Ask the debt collector his name, his company’s name, address, phone number, and why he is calling.
  • Write the answers in your notebook. Write the date and time you talked.
  • Then you have a record if you need to complain, or if you need to go to court to defend yourself.

How can I stop calls from a debt collector?

Do you want the debt collector to stop calling you? You must send a letter telling the debt collector to stop calling. The law says he must stop calling you then.

If a debt collector breaks the law, file a complaint. The Federal Trade Commission tries to catch debt collectors who break the law.

What happens if I get sued?

Stopping calls does not mean the debt goes away. The debt collector might still sue you to collect money. If you are being sued, you should get a notice in the mail.  Sometimes, this is called a “summons.”

In a lawsuit, the debt collector usually asks the court to:

  • say how much you owe
  • make you repay that amount

The court might even tell your employer to take money out of your paycheck until you repay what you owe. This is called “garnishing” your wages.

Do not ignore notices about a lawsuit. If you do not go to court, you automatically lose.

If you owe money you cannot repay, you need a plan. Do not ignore the problem. There are people who can help you.

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