This April, we will be sharing some important information from our Consumer Law unit to help raise awareness of scams, credit card fees and credit reports. Our first topic is "What to Do If You Are Contacted by a Debt Collector."
It can be alarming to be contacted by a debt collector for money that you owe to a creditor. But you are protected by the law. Even if you owe money, you have rights.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Always make sure the person contacting you is an actual debt collector, and the call is not a scam. A debt collector should not be asking you for personal information, such as a social security number. Do not give out this information.
You have the right to ask for their information to verify that they are an actual debt collector:
Ask for their name and what company they are from.
Ask for their contact information, like their phone number and address.
Ask what debt they are trying to collect, the account number, and how much you owe.
A legitimate debt collector should be able to answer these questions.
To verify their information, you can call back the number they give you. You also have the right to ask for a notice of the debt collection to be mailed to you, on the company’s letterhead.
Also, under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a debt collector is not allowed to harass, annoy, or embarrass you. They cannot call you more than once a day, and can only call between the hours of 8am-9pm. A debt collector cannot swear at you, threaten to hurt you, or threaten to tell others about your debt.
If a debt collector does any of this to you, a lawyer can help. We offer no-cost legal services for issues like these. To learn more and begin the application process for legal assistance, contact us.