BankruptcyConsumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that more than 70 million Americans have a debt in collections. Are you one of them? If so, you can’t afford to skip this article.

Calls from debt collectors can be intimidating and stressful. But the law says these calls should not be harassing or threatening in any way. Threats of harm, abusive language or scare tactics violate federal laws. Unfortunately, when companies are trying to collect money from you, they often resort to extreme measures and questionable tactics even though they know they’re in violation of the law. A bankruptcy lawyer like Brian D. Zinn can stop harassment from collection agencies and help right your financial ship. ZinnLaw of Fort Myers wants to help you learn how to get creditors to stop harassing you. Let’s start with what debt collectors are NOT allowed to do.

The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act is there to protect you.

Federal law stipulates that debt collectors must follow certain practices when trying to collect a debt. The law applies to third-party collectors attempting to collect debt for credit cards, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other types of household debt. It is important to note that these rules do not apply to in-house debt collectors. For instance, your dentist’s office doesn’t have to follow these rules, but the collection agency the dentist hires to recover the debt does have to follow the law.

Here’s What Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Do

  1. Present themselves as working for a government agency such as a police department or the IRS.
  2. Threaten to have you arrested or put in jail. Collection agencies cannot issue arrest warrants.
  3. Call outside the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless prearranged with you. Debt collectors are allowed to send text messages, emails or letters in their attempts to recover a debt.
  4. Contact you at your job if you ask them not to do so. You can make this request to your creditors either verbally or in writing. You can also request that the collection agency stop calling you at home, but these requests must be made in writing. (This isn’t always a good idea, though, as we will explore in a later article.)
  5. Publicly shame you. Debt collectors cannot publicize your debt. In fact, they cannot discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney. They can contact third parties to determine phone numbers, addresses or the names of employers, but nothing more.
  6. Threaten you with violence or harm.
  7. Use profanity or obscene language.
  8. Call repeatedly.
  9. Contact you at all if you’ve told them to stop or to only contact your attorney. This request must be made in writing.
  10. Attempt to collect a debt via a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired. In Florida, the statute of limitation on debt is typically five years. This means once that timeline has expired, creditors can no longer file a lawsuit to try and recover debt from the borrower.

Have creditors been calling off the hook? Do you feel like you can’t get out from under a growing amount of debt? Are you fearful your wages may be garnished? Often people end up in a huge amount of debt through no fault of their own. Although people may try to avoid it due to embarrassment or fear, sometimes choosing to file for bankruptcy could be the best choice.  For over 30 years, Brian Zinn and his associates at ZinnLaw of Fort Myers have been helping people get a fresh start by declaring bankruptcy. Read on if you think this may be an option for you, and we will explain some important points about declaring bankruptcy in Southwest Florida.