We have just come through a tremendous economic downturn, and many people are still trying to pay off some of those debts. Fortunately, most debt collectors will work with you if you need extra time to pay them, but others are far from patient and nice.
Many of you may wonder how companies obtain your personal information. The internet is one place where a lot of personal information floats out there. When you apply for credit you have to give a lot of information, including your social security number.
In many cases, if you do not specify that you do not want the company to sell your information – they will sell it to other companies. These companies then sell it to other companies who use it for marketing purposes. In some cases, they even sell your information to debt collectors.
If you have listed your number on the Do Not Call Registry, you may receive fewer unwanted calls; however, many of the unscrupulous companies ignore the registry. You can always file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. Going through this administrative process puts the government on your side.
For the most part, the Do Not Call Registry will prevent marketing calls, but does very little to prevent calls from debt collectors.
The Fair Debt Practices Act is a federal statute that gives you private rights of action against debt collectors. It also enables you to shift attorney’s fees to the debt collector if you can prove your damages.
Most states have a Fair Business Practices Act that also provides protection for the consumer. These laws basically protect you from debt collectors threatening to do things that they legally cannot do. Some of these things include:
- Threatening to send the sheriff to get you
- Threatening to garnish your wages
- Telling you anything that is false or misleading
If you are being threatened by a debt collector and you don’t know what to do, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.