When you know you have debt that’s gone to collections, it’s a stressful financial situation to be in. You might find yourself wondering what rights you have, can debt collectors call your work and expose information to your employer, or what methods of contact are legal altogether.
It’s essential to understand your rights and what debt collectors can and cannot do so you can act accordingly with the support of federal and local debt collection laws to help protect you. If you’ve found yourself with debt in collections, here are some facts to help understand what you can do and what to consider in your long-term financial plan.
What happens when a debt collector contacts you for the first time?
When you receive contact from a debt collector, don’t panic. The call may come as a surprise and you might be caught off guard. The collector calling you may put pressure on you to pay the debt immediately, so it’s important you know what rights you have before disclosing any information to someone calling you about a debt they claim you owe.
Often these calls come from unknown or restricted numbers. The first thing you should consider is confirming the debt collector’s information. Ask them to confirm the name of the debt collection agency they are working for, their main phone number, and their physical address.
Within five days of contacting you, debt collectors must also validate the debt with you. They’re required by law to tell you the current creditor’s name, the amount of the debt, and how to get the initial creditor’s name. Consider requesting this validation of debt information in writing, called a debt validation letter. This way, you’re able to reference a paper trail of documentation related to the call and the debt if needed.
If a debt collector is unwilling or unable to provide any of the above information, you should consider this a red flag and not give any further information and hang up the phone.
Can creditors call your work, too?
To put pressure on you to make a payment, debt collectors may call your place of employment. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this is allowed as long as they don’t have prior knowledge that your workplace doesn’t allow calls of this nature.
If this happens and you receive a debt collection call at work, consider telling the collector that you can’t receive calls at work and not contact you during your working hours. This is one of your rights when you have debt in collections, and the creditor must oblige. If they persist in calling you at work after you told them not to then you should consider contacting the Attorney General’s office or the FTC to file a complaint against the debt collector and agency who called you.
One exception to be mindful of is when a debt collector has gotten a court order to garnish your wages. They can then contact your employer about the alleged debt in order to collect the monies you owe. This generally only happens if they’ve won a collection lawsuit against you. If you become aware of a debt case against you, consider having your own attorney in your corner to help guide you in the best direction to resolve the debt.
In what other ways can debt collectors contact you?
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector could contact you via phone as long as they refrain from harassing, abusive, or unfair practices. However, with the rise of the digital age, you’re probably thinking about other communication means from debt collectors contacting you like texts, emails, and other e-communications like social media.
A recent ruling by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau updated these rules to acknowledge that creditors can indeed use texts, emails, and even social media DMs to contact you about your debt. While these new communication channels are now fair game, it is essential to remember that all your previous rights with debt collectors still apply.
You can still consider telling a debt collector to stop contacting you, request that the debt be validated, and are not subject to any forms of harassment, vulgar language, etc., from a debt collector in the course of collecting a debt against you.
Leslie H. Tayne, Esq., founder and head attorney at Tayne Law Group, P.C., was featured on ABC7 with Nina Pineda discussing what the new CFPB rules mean for consumers when they take effect in 2021 and what you can do to opt-out of digital communications from debt collectors.
How can you stop a collection agency from contacting you further?
As noted above, you do have the right to tell a debt collector to stop contacting you and get them to stop. You can do this a few different ways, including a long-term financial plan to pay off the debt.
- Directly on the phone. When a debt collector contacts you, there is no need to wait if you want them to stop contacting you immediately. You can speak directly to the creditor the first time they call, and request no further contact from them.
- Write a letter. If you want to have a documented paper trail of this request, you can send a cease and desist letter to the debt collection agency. You’ll have to confirm the companies’ contact information to send the letter directly to write this.
- Create a payment plan. While other options provide a shorter-term solution, consider making a debt payment plan, so you’re able to begin paying off your debts and start on the path to debt-free living. You can even consider contacting a debt solutions law firm that will work with the collectors on your behalf to find a payment plan that works for you and one in which the creditor will be happy with too. Remember to work with a reliable and trustworthy firm for debt solutions to ensure the matter is resolved properly.
The Bottom Line
When you’re struggling with debt, you may find yourself getting calls from creditors and unsure what to do next. It’s essential to understand your rights and the steps you can take to get your debt settled in a way that works for you.
If you’re unsure of where to turn for help on how to take these next steps or creditors are calling you, contact our team of debt help professionals at Tayne Law Group, P.C.. Contact us today at 631-470-8204 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation to help you understand your rights and get a strategy to resolve your debt that makes sense and protects your credit. Make the phone call today that can help stop debt collection calls and resolve your debt now.