When consumers get their first credit card or auto loan, they may be excited to enter the world of consumer finance, but they often fail to realize how debt can become a burden, a ball and chain, something that feels a lot like a heavy weight on their shoulders.
Debt can be fine as long as it’s manageable. But the moment the debtor loses his or her job, becomes ill or disabled, collects workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability (both of which provide minimal benefits), has a costly medical emergency, or suffers another mishap, the debtor can be unable to pay their debts. An “inability to pay” can wreak havoc on a debtor’s personal life.
When Debt Collectors Get Involved
After a debtor has gone past-due for some time, typically a debt collector gets involved. A debt collector can be an individual or a company that is in the business of collecting debts that are owed to other entities. Debt collectors can be attorneys, collection agencies, and companies that purchase delinquent debts and then try to get debtors to pay on them.
As we explained in our last blog post, “What is Debt Collector Harassment,” debt collectors are strictly prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) from using abusive or deceptive practices to collect debts from debtors, but we assure you, the FDCPAhas not restrained all debt collectors. Many of them still engage in unethical debt collection practices to this day.
“What types of debts are covered by the FDCPA?” The Act essentially covers all family, household, and personal debts. So, this includes money you might owe on credit card accounts, auto loans, medical bills, furniture loans, past-due utility bills, past-due cellphone bills, and mortgages. However, the FDCPA does not apply to business-related debts, such as those incurred by a small business.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector cannot:
- Contact you before 8AM or after 9PM, unless you give your express permission.
- Contact you at work if you tell the debt collector that your employer is not okay with you be contacted during work hours.
- Contact you after you mailed them a letter telling them to stop. However, they can contact you to inform you of plans to take a specific action.
- Communicate with your employer, friends or family about the debt.
- Use profane or threatening language.
- Harass you with continuous phone calls.
- Lie that you’re going to be arrested.
- Threaten to sue you, unless the threat is real and legal.
- Threaten to garnish your wages unless it is real and legal.
Are you a victim of debt collection abuse? If so, you may have legal recourse. Since states have their own debt collection laws, some of which are different than the FDCPA, we encourage you to contact our firm to meet with a York debt collection attorney about your case.