A person who owes money to a creditor for such things as charge accounts, medical bills, personal loans, mortgage loans and auto finance loans is called a debtor. If a debtor falls behind in payments or an error is made on an account, he or she may be contacted by a debt collector. A debt collector is any person who regularly collects debts owed to others. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forces debt collectors to treat debtors fairly and regulates debt collection methods. The act prohibits debt collectors from harassing, oppressing, or abusing debtors or any other person they contact in furtherance of the collection of the debt. Debt collectors may not lie or attempt to deceive debtors when collecting debts. Things such as threats of violence, profane language, false threats of imprisonment, threats of legal action when the creditor can not or does not intend to take such action, reporting false credit information, and premature negotiation of a post dated check are all specifically prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Debt collectors are permitted to contact debtors in attempt to collect legitimate debts. This contact may be by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. Telephone contact is restricted in as much as debt collectors may not call at inconvenient times or places, or at the debtor's place of employment, if the collector knows that the debtor's employer disapproves of such contacts. Debt collectors may contact other people, such as a debtor's family and friends, but this contact is limited to locating the debtor. In most cases, collectors may not inform other people, other than the debtor's attorney, that the debtor owes money. Collectors are limited to contacting the debtor's attorney once they are notified of the representation.
A debtor may stop or limit a collector's contact by writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop the contact. The collector may not contact the debtor after receiving this letter except to provide notice of the creditor's intent to take some specific action. While a letter will stop contact from the creditor, it will not make the debt disappear and the creditor is still entitled to pursue any legal remedies it has against the debtor. If a person is being contacted by a debt collector and is able to make payments, they may be able to negotiate payment arrangements with the creditor. If payment arrangements cannot be negotiated, a debtor may want to learn about Bankruptcy options.
If you believe that a debt collector violated the law while attempting to collect a debt from you, you have the right to sue within one year from the date that the law was violated. If you live in Maryland and need assistance dealing with a debt collector or think that a collector has violated the law, do not hesitate to Contact Me.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.