Have you ever been incessantly contacted by a debt collection agency trying to get money from you? Many individuals experience unwanted contact from debt collectors and are unsure how to approach the situation. That’s why we’re here to help. It can be difficult to understand just what exactly these agencies are legally allowed to do, and what crosses the line.
Businesses or individuals who collect debts on behalf of others are known as debt collectors. The majority of debt collectors work for reputable collection companies. Doctors, hospitals, shops, mail-order businesses, and occasionally banks and loan firms all use collection agencies. The majority of lawyers who collect debts on behalf of their clients are also considered “debt collectors” under federal law. In this blog, we discuss what debt collectors in Indiana can and cannot do according to the law.
When Are Debts Covered By the Law?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects consumers from harassment from debt collectors. Under this law, debt collectors are required to treat consumers fairly, and consumers are given important rights. Personal, family, and household debts are all covered under this act. As an example, if you owe money to a jewelry store and the store tries to collect the money from you itself, it is not protected under the FDCPA. However, if the store hires a collection agency or attorney to collect the debt, these entities are covered by the act.
What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do
It’s important to know your rights when dealing with debt collectors. These agencies must abide by the law. When they don’t, you may be eligible to sue the collection agency for violating consumer protection laws. It is illegal for debt collectors to engage in the following practices:
Debt collectors may not use language, engage in conduct, or communicate in ways that would harass, oppress, or abuse any person. Additionally, they may not:
- Threaten to harm your reputation, your body, or your property.
- Declare publicly that you owe money, or add your name among others who “refuse to pay their bills.” It is NOT prohibited by this for debt collectors to add accurate information to your credit report, however.
- Make use of vulgar or filthy words.
- Make your phone ring non-stop in a way that would be seen to be oppressive or unpleasant.
- Call you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm your time.
Though it is illegal for a debt collector to threaten you, they can pressure you to pay off your debt, which may include daily calls, frequent letters, or talk of pursuing a lawsuit against you.
Specifically, debt collectors may not:
- Provide the erroneous impression that they are a lawyer or a representative of the government.
- Give the idea that you have broken the law or have done anything else wrong by not paying a debt.
- Convey a misleading sense of affiliation with or ownership of a credit bureau.
- Misrepresent the quantity, nature, or legal standing of a debt.
- Erroneously claim that the documents they are delivering to you are legal ones when they are not.
- Falsely state that the documents they are providing you are not legal documents when, in reality, they are.
- State that they will take action against you even though they do not intend to or are unable to do so legally.
Debt collectors can, however, sue you for repayment of an unpaid debt as a last-ditch effort. Since debtors usually do not show up to court, these cases usually result in wage garnishment.
Debt collectors may not:
- Attempt to collect any amount above the sum you actually owe, unless the law specifically permits such an amount.
- Deposit a postdated check more than five days before the check’s due date without notifying you in advance of their intended deposit time.
- Request a postdated check with the intention of threatening legal action or early cashing.
- Require you to pay for telegrams or collect calls.
Contact an Attorney Today
Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by these unfair practices. Call us today! The attorneys for Sawin & Shea have appeared on nearly 1,000 FDCPA cases and can help you possibly receive money before you file bankruptcy. If you believe that you have been the victim of unfair debt collection practices, please contact us. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means no money comes out of your pocket!
If you’re ready to receive assistance with your debts or if you want to learn more about how our attorneys can help, call us at 317-759-1483. You can also click here to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with one of our attorneys to review your situation.