Legal Lens: Understanding Debt Collection Practices
The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at day-to-day legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.
ST. LOUIS – There are certain practices debt collectors can and cannot do. Andrea McNairy, Managing Lawyer at Brown & Crouppen, explains in more detail in this week’s legal lens.
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
“The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you certain rights and protections when someone is trying to collect a debt from you. You have rights, you have to know what they are, ”McNairy said.
What’s the first step?
“The FDCPA protects people, not business debts, but individual debts. This requires someone from a debt collection agency to contact you and offer you the mini-Miranda warning, stating that they are a debt collector, what debt they are trying to collect and that any information that it gets will be used for that purpose, ”she said.“ They are also required to give you again a validation for five years, indicating what the debt is, the name of the creditor, where the debt started and how to proceed if you wish to dispute the debt. “
What can’t debt collectors do?
“There is a long list of things that are regularly violated. They can’t contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you allow them to, ”McNairy said. “They can’t contact you at work after you tell them not to, can’t threaten to arrest you or harass you, or blasphemy, can’t make false statements saying that you owe more than you do, or they’re with another agency and can’t contact you if you have a lawyer.
What if you are contacted by a collector?
“The first thing to do is to demand written proof of the debt. They have 30 days to do so in writing. Insist that they communicate with you only in writing. This will stop the calls. Finally, if served with a lawsuit, don’t ignore it. Represent yourself or contact a lawyer to represent you, ”she said.
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