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If you’ve fallen behind on some payments, you know how troublesome calls from debt collectors can be. If you’re receiving these calls, you should know your rights and what to do about them. Are you aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enforced by the FTC? This law prohibits debt collectors from using unfair, abusive, or deceptive practices in their work.

  • Not all kinds of debts are covered by the FDCPA. Business debts aren’t included in the protections this act affords. Credit card debt is covered, as are auto loans, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and household debts.
  • There are times, places, and methods available to debt collectors, and others that aren’t. Debt collectors aren’t allowed to contact you at work if you’ve told them not to do so, and can’t contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without your permission. They’re allowed to reach out via letters, emails, calls, and text messages, though, when they’re trying to collect a debt. A debt collector can’t talk to people other than you and your attorney about your debt, and cannot win a lawsuit if a debt is past the statute of limitations.
  • You can make a debt collector stop contacting you. Send a letter, preferably by certified mail with a return receipt. After the letter is received, the debt collector may only contact you to let you know that the contact is going to stop, or to inform you of specific action to be taken, like a lawsuit. If the collector knows you’re represented by an attorney, communication must be through your attorney. It’s smart to talk to a debt collector at least once, to verify that the debt is yours. Be careful about sharing your personal or financial information with a collector.
  • Debt collectors must give you pertinent information. Within five days of initial contact, you must be sent a written “validation notice” that states how much money you owe, the name of the creditor, and what to do if you think it’s invalid.
  • There are some things debt collectors can’t do. They can’t harass you, threaten you with harm, use bad language, or use the phone to annoy you. They can’t lie or engage in unfair practices like piling up charges that aren’t allowed in the original contract or depositing a post-dated check early. They can sue to be able to garnish your wages, but there are some things they can’t touch, like most federal benefits.

If you’re struggling with debt, you can trust the compassionate, dedicated attorneys at Cutler & Associates to keep your best interests in mind. A Chicagoland bankruptcy firm, we have clients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, and work hard to make sure our clients get what they need. Our offices are conveniently located in Aurora, Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Lisle, Naperville, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, and Skokie. Contact us through our website, or call (773) 360-5802 for more information.