In an effort to make you pay, some debt collectors may resort to unethical means. They may falsely threaten you with law suits or repossessions. They may call you incessantly or use derogatory language that will embarrass and humiliate you. However, these things don’t have to happen. The United States actually has a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that protects individuals from the abusive behavior of debt collectors.
In the first place, why do debt collectors find it easy to violate the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act? Actually, the answer is quite simple. Debt collectors take advantage of people’s ignorance. If you don’t know the law and you’re not familiar with the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, you won’t know what rights you have against these debt collectors. If the debtor is ignorant, the debt collector can manipulate him easily. Without the necessary information, debtors will not know how to fight back against debt collectors who harass him.
Another reason is that while abusive behavior is common, it may be hard to prove. Oftentimes, debtors have difficulty providing evidence that clearly shows that the debt collectors went beyond their limitations and violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In order to help your cause, it is advisable that you keep copies of every single document that you and your debt collector exchanged.
Lastly, the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act has several loopholes. So, if the debt collector makes some violations, he can simply close his office only to reopen later, under a new name.
Once you are sure that your debt collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, here are the steps you should take:
1) Notify the debt collector of the violation you observed. In a formal letter, cite the provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act that was violated. Include details of the event like the date, time, place as well as other circumstances regarding the violation. Make sure you ask for a receipt that proves that the debt collector has indeed received your complaint.
2) If you find it necessary, you can mail another letter to ask the debt collector to stop calling or visiting you.
3) File a formal complaint at the Federal Trade Commission or the FTC. The FTC is the body that is responsible for regulating the activities of debt collection agencies. Filing a complaint is easy, just log on to www.ftc.gov and you can accomplish an online form.
4) Go to your State Attorney General and report your debt collector’s abusive behavior. The Secretary General will have the case processed and investigated.
If you have enough evidence, approach your lawyer and consider filing a lawsuit against that collection agency.
Remember, the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act is there to support you. However, it is only useful when you have enough knowledge about it.