Understanding what debt collectors can and cannot do

When your phone rings, you wonder if it's your BFF, your mom or maybe your boss calling. But when you pick your phone up, the number is unfamiliar. The voice on the other end is just as unfamiliar and begins explaining that you owe money. And asking when you are going to pay off your debt.

A recent newspaper article on debt collection urges those who get a call from a debt collector to resist the urge to panic, and instead "take a deep breath" and "learn about what collection agencies can and can’t do."

First things first, the article states. Know that even if you are behind on your car payments, mortgage, medical bills or credit cards, you are protected by law from abusive debt collection tactics.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits abusive and deceptive collection practices, including the following:

  • Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Use of obscene or intimidating language
  • Threats (arrest, lawsuits, garnishments or violence)
  • Calling you at work
  • Using false or misleading information
  • Send you official-looking "court documents" that are not authentic

If a collector calls and cannot (or will not) supply you with a validation notice (a notice giving the name of the creditor and the exact amount owed), it is very possible that you have been contacted by a scammer, the article states.

If you are being subjected to abusive debt collection tactics, you can protect yourself with the help of a Philadelphia consumer protection attorney who knows how to fight back.

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