Making a debt collector obey the law

If a Philadelphia police officer sees you roll your car through a stoplight, you will get a traffic ticket. You are also prohibited by law from taking what you like from a grocery store without paying for the items.

Likewise, debt collectors' tactics are limited by a law called the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. That 1977 consumer protection legislation prevents collectors from harassing and abusing people in the course of debt collection.

A recent newspaper article laid out several tactics debt collectors are prohibited from using, including the following:

  • Going to your workplace: "It's illegal for a debt collector to come to your workplace to collect payment," the article states. A collector can call you at work, however, though they are prohibited from revealing to others what they are calling about. Calls to work can be stopped pretty simply: ask the debt collector to stop calling you there. By law, they must comply with your request.
  • Harassment: Whether the harassment takes the form of threats of violence, endless phone calls, abusive or obscene comments or telling others about your debt, it is all prohibited.
  • Pursue you over a debt that isn't yours: Inaccurate information is common in the debt collection industry and can lead a collector to try getting payments for a debt from the wrong person or for a debt already paid.
  • Call you at all hours: Debt collectors can't ring you before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night.

An experienced consumer protection attorney knows the law and knows how to make debt collectors obey it. Abusive debt collection can be stopped with proper legal assistance.

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