As holiday shopping comes to an end, many may be receiving a not so jolly gift in the mail… your credit card statement. The Washington Post has reported that more and more Americans turn to their credit cards to pay for the holidays (either for hosting parties, vacations, dinners, gift giving, decorating, etc). However, spending on credit can come at a regrettable price if you cannot afford to quickly pay your credit card balance off. Debt collectors can be quick to call (relentlessly) looking for payments if you find yourself not being able to meet your payments. Although creditors have a right to attempt to collect, debtors have rights too.
Knowing the following consumer protection rights can help deal with debt collectors:
- No Early Morning or Late Night Calls –debt collectors are not allowed to call before 8:00am or after 9:00pm.
- No Calls at Work –once a debt collector is told not to contact you at work, office calls are absolutely forbidden.
- No Repeat Calls –debt collectors cannot call repeatedly in one day.
- No Abusive Language or Threats.
- Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Share Your Information With Others –a debt collector cannot inform others that you owe money. However, debt collectors are permitted to merely seek your contact information from others.
- No Threats. Period. –no threats of jail, or empty threats of being sued are permitted. No threats of any kind are permitted.
- Debt Collection Must Be Put in Writing –within 5 days of initial contact, a debt collector must contact you in writing notifying you of the debtor's name and the amount owed.
- Request to Cease Contact Must Be Honored –if you request, in writing, for a debt collector to stop contacting you, they must stop contacting you (although this does not make the debt disappear)
- Debt Collectors Must Verify All Disputed Debts –if you dispute the debt, in writing, the debt collector must verify the debt with you before they can continue attempts to collect.
- Debt Collectors Cannot Attempt to Collect More Than You Owe –which is why verifying the debt to confirm the amount can be important.