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Debt collectors hounding you? Know your rights

If you are struggling to pay back your debt and are being hounded by debt collectors, your life can feel like it is falling apart. No matter what a debt collector tells you, you have rights and cannot be subjected to unethical and illegal behaviors by debt collection companies.

Consumers are protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This federal law protects consumers from being harassed by debt collectors, and allows victims of debt collector harassment to file lawsuits to collect monetary damages up to $1,000.

Consumers should be aware of the different ways debt collectors may try to harass or abuse them while trying to collect unpaid debt. It is illegal for debt collectors to do the following:

  • Make threats. Collectors cannot threaten debtors to try and collect debt. This includes threatening physical harm to notifying others of your debt. 
  • Use harassment. Collectors cannot use name-calling, constant calls or visits to intimidate you into repaying your debt. 
  • Pretend to be someone else. Collectors must identify who they are and who they work for. 
  • Talk to third parties. Collectors cannot contact or discuss your debt with any third parties, unless you have hired a lawyer to represent you. 
  • Call after allowed hours. Collectors can only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Calling before or after these hours is illegal. 

It is important to understand your rights and report any violations to the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General's Office. It is also beneficial to work with a skilled bankruptcy attorney who can explain your rights and what potential legal options may be available in your case. 

Source: wfmy news, "5 Illegal Tactics Debt Collectors Use On Consumers," Feb. 27, 2015

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