Fair Debt Collection
People may be unable to meet their credit obligations for reasons as varied as over-extension of finances to unemployment and illness. Whatever the reason, and regardless of the circumstances, no one should have to endure abusive or deceptive collection practices and every consumer is afforded protections by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Personal, family and household debts are covered by the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care or for charge accounts.
Limitations on contacting consumers:
- A debt collector may only contact a person between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Debt collectors may not contact a consumer at work if the debt collector is aware that the employer prohibits such calls.
- A person may notify a debt collector in writing if he or she does not want any further contact with the collector. Once this notice has been received, the debt collector must stop all communications, except to notify the person that a specific action will be taken.
- A debt collector can discuss your debt only with you, your attorney, a credit bureau, the creditor and the creditor’s lawyer. However, the debt collector can contact other people to find out where the debtor lives or works.
Forbidden debt collection practices:
- Debt collectors may not harass, intimidate, threaten or embarrass you.
- Debt collectors may not make false or misleading statements, such as falsely associating themselves with a government office or credit bureau.
- Debt collectors may not use misleading or false threats of imprisonment or criminal charges.
If you believe a debt collector is violating the Act, take the following steps.
- Keep detailed records of any communication you have with the debt collector, including time, date and the name of the person with whom you spoke.
- Keep a copy of all written correspondence between you and the debt collector.
- Report the debt collector in writing to the Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission or Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies.
- Depending upon the conduct of the debt collector, you may have the right to sue the debt collector yourself. You may want to talk with a private attorney of your choice to discuss your options.