Bill collectors can be very persistent while trying to collect money, as many may know. However, people may not know that The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act extends substantial protection to people from collectors by making certain practices illegal in Massachusetts and the rest of the United States.
Many people do not know their rights under the law, but having an understanding of your rights can protect you from harassment and intimidation. Below is a list of many things that bill collectors cannot do while trying to get money for a bill, and what you can do if you believe that your rights have been violated. Also listed below is what bill collectors cannot do while trying to collect money.
What Collectors Cannot Do
- Collectors cannot call after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.
- Collectors cannot call many times a day about the same bill.
- Collectors cannot contact a person if the person sends the collectors a letter that says the person does not want to be contacted again regarding the bill.
- Collectors cannot call the person’s job if the person asks the collectors to stop.
- Collectors cannot show up at a person’s job.
- Collectors cannot harass people who owe money.
- Collectors cannot threaten the people who owe money. This includes: using inappropriate language, threatening violence, threatening to take property away illegally, or threatening to have someone arrested.
- Collectors cannot threaten to sue without meaning it.
- Collectors cannot lie about which company the collector works for. Collectors cannot pretend to be attorneys, the government, or to work for a credit bureau.
- Collectors cannot lie about the amount of money that is owed.
- Collectors cannot say a form that was sent was a legal document if it wasn’t.
- Collectors cannot publicize the fact someone owes money. Collectors cannot tell anyone besides the person who owes the money, the person’s spouse, and the person’s attorney about the money owed.
- Collectors cannot publish the bill’s existence somewhere that someone else may see it, including on a post card.
If a collector does anything which violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the person may contact the state’s attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or an attorney for help.
However, there are many things that a collector can do to try to get the money owed.
What Collectors Can Do
- Collectors can call daily, in between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
- Collectors can send frequent letters.
- Collectors can try to find out a person’s current contact information by calling family and friends.
- Collectors can sue for the money.
- Collectors can call a person’s workplace until the person asks the collector to stop.
- Collectors can try to get the money owed even if too much time has passed for the collector to sue the person.
- Collectors can sell the money owed, and another collection company may take over.
Being pressured by collectors can be extremely stressful and you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Even if the collectors are acting lawfully, their contact can still be annoying and disruptive. It can also be hard to tell when a collector crosses the line from legal to illegal territory. Contacting a bankruptcy attorney can take care of a lot of the stress from the collector, and the person who owes the money can be certain that their rights are being protected and advocated for. If you are being contacted by a collection agency and looking to erase your bills by filing for personal bankruptcy, please contact the Law Office of Bucacci and Simonian at 508-673-9500 for your free and confidential bankruptcy attorney consultation.