Phone Calls From Debt Collectors
Although the FDCPA does not specifically say how many times collectors can call, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published their interpretation of the law which says debt collectors may not call repeatedly or continuously under the circumstances. The FTC goes on to say that collection calls must be meaningful and for a legitimate purpose. In other words the calls must be for a productive purpose such as verifying information, following up on a previous conversation, arriving at an agreement and so forth. They cannot keep calling you repeatedly or continuously for the sole purpose of demanding payment and doing so so is harassment.
It’s important to note that creditors are exempt from this federal requirement however, your State Laws may prohibit this activity. Especially if they are calling on weekends, holidays and other inconvenient times or calling the wrong person!
Bill collectors and debt collection agencies must follow the FDCPA rules when contacting you. They are allowed to contact you via, mail, phone, or email however, unless you give permission to do otherwise, they can only contact you under these specific conditions:
They can contact you at your place of residence by phone, mail, in person, by FAX or email during reasonable hours such as between 8 am and 9 P.M..
They cannot contact you at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to you.
They cannot contact you at work if your employer disapproves and they are informed of this fact by you or your employer.
Additionally, collectors cannot disclose any information about you or the debt to third parties (relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow workers and employers). They can call these people to verify location information and only if asked, reveal who they work for. Revealing who they work for does not mean that, once asked, they can discuss your case. Also, collectors clearly violate the FDCPA when they call these people more than once or call them after they already have your location information.
Calling On Holidays and Weekends
The FDCPA provides “Collectors cannot contact you at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to you.” The key to this statement is the words “known to be inconvenient.” From your point of view, calling on Saturday or Sunday morning or in the middle of a holiday dinner is inconvenient and any reasonable person would know that.
Not all collectors are reasonable. Some have perfected the art of timing their calls for the most inconvenient time. These callers are adept at skirting around the boundaries of acceptable times and places. If you point out that it’s not a good time to talk, expect to provide a time when they can call back. If they ignore you and keep pressing their demand for payment then they quickly move toward illegal behavior. If this is their first call, then they have not violated the FDCPA by calling. However, continuing to press you after you’ve stated the call is inconvenient and provided a time to call back is a violation.
Save yourself a great deal of harassment. Either send a stop calling letter or tell collectors, on their very first call, when they can call. This means telling them the exact days, and times that are not inconvenient. Keep in mind that providing this information is acting in good faith.
For more information see: Harassment Abuse Tactics – FDCPA
Calling the Wrong Person
If you receive calls from collectors looking for someone who lived in the house or apartment before you, had the phone number you have now, or the person’s name is the same or similar to yours, here are some things you can do:
1. Do not take their harassment! Tape the calls and tell the caller that you are doing so for evidence of their illegal behavior and that you intend to file a complaint with your state attorney general and the FTC. Then, contact a consumer protection lawyer or your State Attorney General’s consumer protection division. While you’re on the phone or the web site, ask if they can offer any assistance such as calling or sending the collector a written warning to stop harassing you. Also ask for a reference to any state laws that offer protection from harassment. Then, file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well using their on-line complaint form
2. If they ask for your social security number DO NOT provide it. Not even part of it! Instead, have them tell you what number they are looking for and then you can verify whether it is or is not your number. If it is your number, and you believe there is a mistaken identity start thinking IDENTITY FRAUD and take action to protect your credit reports. Tell the collector you believe this might be fraud or ID theft Identity theft; how to prevent it and protect yourself! If the number is your SS number and the debt might be yours, then act in good faith and tell the collector so. Remember you still have the right to dispute the debt if, after discussing it, you believe it to be invalid.
Also be wary of credit scams and rip-off artists. Credit Fraud, how to avoid these top 10 credit fraud scams
If you believe you are a victim of unfair or illegal debt collection tactics, submit your information to a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer by:
- Clicking here for a FREE* Fair Debt Case Review;
- Calling toll free 888-FDCPA-LAW (888-332-7252);
- Clicking here to locate a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer.
The debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!