- Jenn Steliga
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – A Primer
The purpose of this brief post is to first and foremost give you hope if you find yourself facing collectors, and second to point you in the right direction to get started in dealing with this debt.
To start with, familiarize yourself with The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA is a federal law that governs the practices of debt collectors and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition to the federal law, some states (for example, California) have additional, more nuanced, laws governing debt collection practices, so be sure to familiarize yourself with any state-specific protections that might apply to you as well.
In general, there are limits on when and where collectors can contact you. Usually they are allowed to contact you between the hours of 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, but as with all of the finer details of the federal provisions, it’s best to check your state laws too.
Some other high points to be aware of:
The FDCPA covers debt like mortgages, credit cards and medical expenses. It does not cover business debt
Collectors are prohibited from using harassing language
If you notify the collector, in writing, that they cannot contact you at work, they must honor this
You have the right to validate the debt by requesting a debt verification letter. There are time limits on when this must be done, so it’s important you stay on top of the process from the beginning.
What should you do if collectors are calling and you’re not sure where to start?
Take a deep breath. There’s a way to handle this, and you can take control of the process, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
Know your rights. Review the FDCPA and state specific laws.
Don’t avoid the collectors – communicate in a clear, specific, and calm way.
Keep meticulous records: dates, times of all communications – who you spoke to, what was discussed, etc.
Come up with a plan to make payments. It doesn’t have to be the full minimum amount every month.
If you’re not in a financial position to make the monthly payment each month, you may need to accept that your credit score will go down. But keep in mind that your credit score isn’t the ultimate goal here. Your well-being, and the well-being of your family is always your first priority. Getting, and staying, out of debt is the first step to gaining your sense of financial peace because it puts you back in control.
If you’re facing this situation and could use some guidance along the way, set up a no-obligation, no-cost consultation with me here. I can show you how people just like you are taking control of the collections process and moving toward the freedom of an intentional life. You don’t have to do this alone!