The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) clearly spells out what a debt collector can do vis-à-vis monies that are owed by you. On the issue of harassment, debt collectors typically contact consumers via 5 communication channels:
- 4% of consumers are contacted by debt collectors in person
- 12% of consumers are contacted by debt collectors via email
- 57% of consumers are contacted by debt collectors via voicemail/messaging
- 71% of consumers are contacted by debt collectors via a letter in the mail
- 85% of consumers are contacted by debt collectors via telephone
A leading advocate of consumer rights and protections on the issue of debt collectors, DebtConsolidation. com provides informed insights on how to stop the collection calls from disrupting your day-to-day life. Any harassment on the part of a debt collector is frowned upon says the CFPB. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, states that no abuse, harassment, or oppression of debtors is permissible. This harassment comes in many forms, including anonymous phone calls about debts that are outstanding, vulgarity, profanity, or threatening language, repetitive calling about debts, and concomitant harassment of any person who answers the call. More importantly, debt collectors are not allowed to threaten bodily harm on anyone who owes them money.
Are the Debt Collectors Transgressing Codes of Conduct?
Any transgressions of the aforementioned ‘codes of conduct’ are subject to disciplinary measures and/or legal action including the payment of damages and attorney’s fees. It is important to understand that debt collectors are not allowed to misrepresent themselves in any way. These misrepresentations include the threat to have somebody arrested, threats to perform illegal actions, and lies about the amount outstanding. If any of these transgressions have been noted, everyone has a legal right to contact their attorney general to inform them of malpractice on the part of debt collectors.
The CFPB advises all clients to keep accurate records of communications with debt collectors, to make it easier to prosecute offenses as they occur. These records include a diary with the times of the harassing calls, the telephone numbers used, the people issuing the threats and so forth. Armed with all this information, you stand a much better chance of a favourable outcome in a court of law. Debt collectors are not allowed to collect additional charges over and above the debt you owe them unless state law or a contract implies otherwise. Additionally, a debt collector is not allowed to make an early deposit of a PD check, and no debts can be communicated to you on a postcard.
Consumers Are Protected by a Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt
Consumer watchdog organizations such as DebtConsolidation.com stress the importance of the statute of limitations for credit card debt when it comes to debt collections. For example, there is a time-specific set of rules that governs the duration that credit card debt can hang over your head. This typically ranges between 3 years and 10 years. States like Arizona, Washington, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have the shortest statute of limitations at around 3 years, while states like Florida, Texas, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and others are between 4 and 5 years. States with the longest statute of limitations include Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Oregon, and Colorado. If the statute of limitations has expired from the date of your last payment, you will not be liable for that debt. However, your credit score will be impacted.