With graduation comes adult life. You’re starting out in your career, getting a place of your own and… paying off those student loans. The good thing about student loans is that most of them have a grace period of six months after graduation; this gives you time to settle into your post-graduate life and start to save. Once that six month mark hits, though, it’s important to know how much to pay and when. It’s also important to know your rights as a consumer that protect you from unethical debt collection practices or abusive debt collectors. Understanding how you’re protected can save you financially and emotionally.
Know Your Rights About Fair Debt Collection
When it comes to debt collection, you’re more protected than you may initially think. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors cannot use abusive, deceptive or unfair tactics against you. While it may seem like you have to follow directions from whom you owe money, don’t give into their false and empty threats. The FDCPA includes:
- Restricted contact hours — Debt collectors cannot call consumers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Restricted continuous contact — Debt collectors are prohibited from continuously calling with the intent to annoy or harass the consumer into taking action on their debts
- Restricted workplace contact — Debt collectors cannot contact you at your workplace, nor can they contact your employer about the debts you owe
- Unethical or abusive actions — Debt collectors cannot use profane language, threaten arrest or legal action, lie about the amounts owed, publish a consumer’s information on a “bad debt” list, nor use public media to contact the consumer
While the above is a shortened list of your rights under the FDCPA, you can sue for damages if a debt collector has violated your rights. You can read the law in its entirety on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Take Action Against Unfair Debt Collection
Request validation on the declared debt immediately. A validation check will help ensure that the person contacting you is a legitimate debt collector and will verify the amount you owe and to whom. The collection agency cannot contact you during the validation period, either.
Once you receive a validation check, you can request that the debt collector stop contacting you. This won’t make your debt go away, but it will stop the contact. The request has to be in writing and sent within 30 days of the initial contact from the debt collector. Be sure to make a copy for your personal records, send by certified mail and obtain a receipt from the post office. After this, the collection agency shouldn’t contact you further, except to confirm that it received your letter. Find the contact information and mailing address for your collection agency here.
Owing a debt is not a crime, but abusive debt collectors will make you feel like it is. You have the right to sue collection agencies if your rights are violated, and you must file within one year from the date your rights were violated. If you continue to experience harassment and abuse from debt collectors after following the steps above, fill out a free case review form. The consumer protection lawyers at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. are ready to help you fight. Call us today at 1-877-735-8600.