No one likes to pick up the phone and discover a debt collector on the other end of the line. Opening your mailbox to find a pile of collection letters is not much fun either. Thankfully if you have recently been through a difficult time financially and are currently faced with the very unpleasant reality of being contacted by debt collectors then the good news for you is that your debt collectors are not simply allowed to use any means they deem necessary in order to compel you into paying your past due debts. You do have a list of very extensive rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that serve to protect you.
You should also keep in mind that although being contacted by your debt collectors may be unsettling, even downright stressful at times, the truth is that debt collectors are fully within their legal rights to attempt to collect a debt from you as long as they follow the law. Here is a list of five completely acceptable and perfectly legal actions your debt collectors may take if you currently have unresolved collections.
1. Debt collectors are allowed to call you at home, on your mobile phone, and even at work.
As long as a debt collector is calling you between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM (based on your time zone, not the debt collector’s time zone) then calling you to discuss a past due collection account is indeed permitted under the FDCPA. In fact, a debt collector is even allowed to call you at work unless you inform the collector (in writing or verbally) that you are not able to accept calls while on the job.
2. Debt collectors are allowed to speak with your spouse.
Discussing your account details with a 3rd party is strictly off limits to any debt collector who does not wish to face a lawsuit under the FDCPA. However, restrictions against 3rd party disclosure do not apply to spouses or to your attorney.
3. Debt collectors are allowed call your friends, family, and even your boss (but there is a catch).
Believe it or not, it is not against the rules for a debt collector to speak with your friends, family, or even your boss and co-workers as long as they strictly follow certain requirements under the FDCPA. Debt collectors are prohibited from discussing any account details (including the fact that you are past due on a debt) with anyone other than yourself, your spouse, or your attorney. However, it is A-OK for a debt collector to contact your friends, family members, and/or co-workers to verify your contact and employment information as long as the collector calls each individual only once.
4. Debt collectors are allowed to write you.
If you have ever received a collection letter in the mail then the fact that your debt collectors are allowed to write to you will probably come as no surprise. Still, even though it is perfectly legal for a debt collector to send you a bill or collection notice there are certain rules by which they must abide. Most notably a debt collector may never contact you via a postcard as all collection notices need to be properly covered and sealed in order to protect your privacy. Additionally, certain disclosures must be included in your collection letters. Of course you do have the right to request that the debt collector stop contacting you, however you probably want to think twice before making such a request. If a debt collector is no longer legally permitted to contact you by phone or mail then the only alternative means of contact remaining would be for the collector to contact you via a lawsuit.
5. Debt collectors are allowed to sue you.
If you are unable or unwilling to pay a past due debt then a debt collector may choose to exercise their right to sue you. (Note: In addition to the FDCPA each state has specific laws and statutes of limitation which serve to further regulate when and if a debt collector is permitted to take you to court.) In the event that a debt collector sues you and wins the case then in addition to the judgment entered against you by the court you could potentially face even further unpleasant consequences such as wage garnishment or even seizure of your personal property.