The best way to protect yourself from harassment is to know the exact job description of your debt collector. If you know the things that his job entitles him to do, you can keep better track of his behavior and take action when he violates your rights. To know the debt collector’s job description, you need to have a thorough understanding of the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This act literally outlines the Fair Debt Collection Practices. It tells you the practices that are acceptable for debt collectors. It also informs you of practices that are unacceptable under the eyes of the law.
So, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices, what are the debt collector’s responsibilities towards you?
Basically, the debt collector owes you information. If the debt collector is trying to get you to pay up, it is only right that you are fully informed of the circumstances surrounding your debt. This means that within five days of initial contact, the debt collector must send you a written document that contains information such as the amount of debt you owe and the company or institution you owe it to. The document should also let you know the steps to take in the event that you believe you do not have that debt and you should not be held responsible for it.
If you file a letter to dispute the debt, the debt collector will stop contacting you until he comes up with evidence that proves that you truly owe that money. As part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices, the debt collector must send you a receipt to prove that he has received your complaint. Also, the debt collector has to mail any evidence that proves that you are responsible for the debt.
Fair Debt Collection Practices are aimed at protecting the debtor’s privacy. As such, if you wish to put a stop to the debt collector’s calls and visits, you must write a letter to indicate your intention. Once the debt collector confirms receipt of your letter, you can expect him to stop contacting you.
Aside from these things, the Fair Debt Collection Practices also forbid your debt collector to do the following:
1) Contact you via phone or make personal visits outside of the time period between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm.
2) Approach your family and friends in an effort to locate you.
3) Come to your workplace for the purpose of contacting you, verifying your employment or acquiring information regarding your salary.
Fair Debt Practices are exactly that – fair. It means that while you have individual rights, the law also provides guidelines to ensure that the debt collector can do his job well.