Collection Calls: Know when and where they are allowed and how to stop them
The FDCPA clearly prohibits debt collectors from calling you with excessive frequency, or at any unusual time or place that is known or should be known to be inconvenient for you. Therefore, it is very important that, if you receive collection calls at a time or place that is inconvenient, you communicate this problem to the collection caller. The collector then has a legal responsibility not to contact you during those times or at those places. Your request does not have to be in writing to be effective. Collectors must obey your verbal request not to be contacted at certain times. However, you must be prepared to offer times when you are available to speak to the collector. Remember that communication is the best way to resolve collection matters.
So what is a reasonable time to be contacted?
The FDCPA assumes convenient times to contact you to be after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m. in your time zone. However, if those times are inconvenient, tell the caller and arrange a different time.
Can a collector call you at work?
A debt collector may contact you at work unless you inform the debt collector that doing so is inconvenient for you. Debt collectors must comply with your written or verbal request to be contacted elsewhere, such as your home phone or your cell phone.
How about Sundays and holidays?
A debt collector is allowed to contact you on any day of the week, Sundays and holidays included, unless you tell them not to call. Again, you must state verbally or in writing that you do not want to be contacted on a particular day of the week or a particular holiday. For instance, you can say, “I do not want to be contacted on Memorial Day,” and the collector must honor your request.
How many times per week can a collector call you?
The FDCPA prohibits a collector from calling repeatedly or continuously so as to be annoying, harassing or abusive. However, neither the FDCPA or previous court decisions have specifically defined how many calls constitute harassment.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FDCPA and has provided some insight on what may constitute harassment. For instance, the FTC says a consumer is called “continuously” if he or she receives a series of collection calls, one right after another.
How to stop a debt collector from calling you
Under the FDCPA, you may send a letter to a collector requesting that all collection calls cease. But in order for this request to be effective, it must be in writing. Once the request is received by the collector, the collector may only contact you once more to inform you that collection efforts will cease, or they can contact you to notify you of the specific remedies the collector or creditor may use to collect the debt from you. These remedies may include filing a lawsuit to collect the debt or pursuing wage garnishment.
Your rights and state law
Many state laws simply mirror the FDCPA. However, some state laws offer additional protection for consumers. Therefore, you should also look at your own state's laws to determine when, where and how many times a collector may contact you.
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