If you find yourself dealing with debt collectors, it is certainly something that is not pleasant. However, then it is important to know what it is that debt collectors have the right to do and what not.
Your Rights Against a Debt Collector
Firstly, a debt collector cannot speak with others about your debt. The exceptions are the original creditor, a credit reporting agency, or your lawyer. Debt collectors also cannot call you at inconvenient times (early in the morning or late at night). If you are not allowed to have phone calls at work, they also cannot disturb you during that time. They also cannot threaten you, use foul language or call you repetitively, because these types of behavior are considered to be harassment.
Providing false or misleading information is also something they cannot do. That includes the amount you owe, claiming to be someone other than a collector, or lying about the potential consequences (for example, to threaten you with going to jail).
Engaging in unfair practices, such as charging more than allowed by state law, threatening to take away your property, or communicating with you by using a postcard (because other people could read your information) is also something they cannot do. However, keep in mind that debt collectors have the right to contact others in order to reach you, without discussing your debt. That’s why it would be much better to give the collector your contact information.
What a Debt Collector Can Do
We will now take a look at what debt collectors actually have the right to do. If your debt was secured by collateral – property (like house or car), they can use foreclosure to recover the property, sell it and apply the funds to your balance. However, this is something you can expect a creditor to do rather than a debt collector.
If you didn’t put up collateral, for instance, your debt is a credit card payment or a cell phone bill, there is actually not much a debt collector can do, except calling you or writing to you. But, if a creditor files a lawsuit and gets a money judgment against you, there are some things they can do then. They can take money out of your paycheck, require the bank to withdraw the amount that you owe, or use some other collecting technique, depending on the situation. What can you do if you cannot pay your debt? If you are judgment-proof (meaning you are unemployed, broke, or have no property), you can just ignore it. You can also stop calls by asking the debt collector, in writing.
The second thing you can do is discharge credit card debt, utility bills, and personal loans in bankruptcy. There is a certain number of years that the debt collector has to sue you for a money judgment, which is called the statute of limitations. Once that period passes, the collector will not be able to get a judgment against you, so you can just simply wait for it to pass.
We hope this article has helped you relieve the stress associated with your debt, as you now have much more information.