Keeping Debt Collectors from Harassing You
When Massachusetts residents are in debt to a creditor and unable to maintain a payment plan, often they are forced to deal with debt collectors. This can be a difficult and annoying experience. The letters they send is tolerable, but the telephone calls can sometimes cause you to blow a gasket. Often they will call during inopportune times, such as when you are sleeping or eating. Some people insist debt collection agencies want to annoy debtors to coerce them into paying the money they owe. And although rare, occasionally you may not even owe the money, as accounting errors do occur. If this happens, you may want to inform the debt collection agency of this.
As more Massachusetts residents were allowed to borrow from a variety of sources during the last few decades, combined with recent economic downturns, there was a corresponding increase in the number of debtors for the debt collectors. Since it is likely these companies are only paid if they are able to collect funds from you, some became ruthless and unscrupulous in their money raising efforts. In response congress enacted regulations to curb the excessive and unscrupulous practices of debt collectors. So in essence, you have a bunch of rights preventing them from excessively harassing you. Should they disregard the regulations, you may report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.Gov) or your own state’s attorney general.
According to the FTC website, debt collectors are allowed to call you, but are prohibited from “using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to collect from you,” including false statements. They are also prohibited from calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you authorize it. In addition, they cannot repeatedly use the phone as a means of annoyance. They cannot call you at work if they are told, either orally or in writing, that you are unpermitted to receive calls there. They must also identify themselves as a debt collector at the start of the conversation and generally cannot discuss your debt with other individuals.
Another regulation regarding debt collectors is that if an attorney is representing you, they must only communicate with him. Should you not have an attorney, they may communicate with other people, but only discover your whereabouts, such as your address, phone number or place of work. Often they are prohibited from communicating with third parties more than once.
To stop them from continually calling you, you can send them a cease-and-desist letter asking them to stop. Once they receive the letter, they cannot call you again, with two exceptions: they may call you once more to tell you they will stop calling or to inform you they are going to take a specific action, such as filing a suit. To send the cease-and-desist letter, you may consider using a template similar to the following:
Date Your Name
City, State, Zip Code
Debt Collector’s Name
City, State Zip
SUBJECT: CEASE-AND-DESIST LETTER FOR ACCOUNT #
To whom it may concern:
Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I am requesting that you cease-and-desist all communication with me, my family and friends, in relation to this and all other alleged debts you claim I owe.
You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the (your state here) Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued.
[Originaly posted on Francois And Associates Blog]