Monday, October 15, 2007

Stop Debt Collectors and Get Back on Your Financial Feet

This article was taken from the Dollar Stretcher website: Written by: John Ventura, Attorney Know your rights

As a consumer law attorney who counsels people with debt problems, I've heard my share of horror stories about debt collectors. For example, a college student client was threatened that she'd be arrested if she did not pay a credit card debt, and another client was called 12 times in one day at work about a debt that was 14 years old. If they knew their rights, these people could have avoided the emotional stress they experienced at the hands of aggressive debt collectors.

This article provides you with an overview of those rights so you don't have to suffer like my clients did. You don't have to put up with abuse from debt collectors! Despite what they may tell you, debt collectors cannot put you in jail, make you lose your job, or ruin your credit forever if you don't pay a debt. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets very strict limits on what debt collectors can and cannot do. Those limits include when they can call you, what they can say and what they can do to collect a debt. The FDCPA applies to outside debt collection agencies, but not to creditors collecting their own debts. However, your state may have a law that applies to in-house debt collectors. Call your state attorney general's office to find out.

Among other things, the FDCPA says that debt collectors cannot:
Lie to you, use racial slurs or insults, or threaten you with violence.-
Call you repeatedly, or call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.-
Call you at work if you've told them you can't accept their calls on the job.-
Contact your employer about a debt unless the debt collector is trying to collect past due child support payments from you.
Garnish your wages without taking you to court first.-
Make false statements, such as telling you they will ruin your credit "forever." They can't.
You have the right, within 60 days of first being contacted by a collector, to ask for written proof of the debt, and the debt collector must provide it. Be sure to ask for proof if there is any question that you owe a debt or if you need time to figure out how to pay a debt you know you owe. Keep careful notes regarding each conversation you have with a debt collector, and copies of all correspondence to and from the collector. These records will be helpful if you need to sue a debt collector.

You Can Stop Debt Collectors:
You can write to a debt collector to tell him not to contact you anymore. After he receives your letter, the FDCPA requires the collector to cease all contact with you other than to let you know about a specific action he is going to take, such as sue you for example. The drawback of ceasing contact, however, is you eliminate the option of negotiating a payment arrangement with the collector or settling your debt for less. However, if you believe you really don't owe a debt or if you truly can't afford to pay it, telling a debt collector to stop contacting you may make sense. Time and again I've seen collectors try to pressure consumers into paying them immediately by threatening to seize their assets, take money from their bank accounts, or garnish their wages. However, a debt collector cannot do any of these things without getting the court's permission first. Furthermore, you will have plenty of notice from the court about what a debt collector wants to do so you can hire an attorney to stop him.

What To Do If A Collector Violates The Law:
If you believe that a debt collector has violated your rights, contact a consumer attorney You should also register a complaint about the collector with the Federal Trade Commission at For much more information about dealing with debt collectors,visit my website at\ John Ventura is a consumer law attorney and board certified in bankruptcy law. He is also the author of thirteen books, including the new ebook, "Stop Debt Collectors Cold" If a debt collector has violated your rights, visit for referral to a consumer attorney. Also, you may want to register a complaint at or you need advice about the best way to deal with a collector, contact a consumer attorney (visit for a referral). You should also register a complaint about the collector with the Federal Trade Commission at For much more information about dealing with debt collectors,visit my website at

Note from Lucy: I thought this was good advice for anyone who is being harrassed by a collection agency...


At 11:42 PM, Blogger Jim said...

My experience with debt collectors is that they are pretty nasty. Meaning not polite or willing to listen or help or be nice.

In Texas, they can't garnish your wages even through court action unless it is for child support and maybe alimony. Then there is a set amount or percentage (whichever is ??) each month and the employer has to send the money through the court or child support administration, not the debt collection agency.

That is good stuff to know, Lucy. Thank you.
I got tired watching your YouTube dancer!

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

Lucy this was great for you to post. I am a retired banker and know the regulations on credit collections. Just last night I watched a TV show that ran a scenario regarding debt collection that was totally against the law. I wondered how many people saw that and would think collectors could get by with that stuff. Anyway, this is great to inform the public! Good job!

At 7:24 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Lucy, I will have to come back to really give this post the time it deserves..BUT, to answer your question..No, The song has never been recireded nor is it published, so it is not abaikable.
BTWL I didn't write the Lyrics, I wrote the music...!

At 7:28 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh and I forgot to say: It's not ME that needs to wear the's the other people. Wearing a mask myself, does NOT protect me from their germs. And besides, there are very few masks that actually work even when OTHER people are wearing them, anyway. I have done extensive research Lucy, and believe me, if it were that simple, I would be there, in a minute, as well as going a lot of ither places, too. It just doesn't work that way.

At 7:23 AM, Blogger Merle said...

Hi Lucy ~~ Sounds like great information and I guess it would be similar in Australia. It pays to know your rights. Debt can be an awful burden to have and I am so glad I do not have any. Thanks for your comment. Take care, Love, Merle.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

I've never had any personal experience with debt collectors, which I good, I guess. I have done a little fighting on behalf of my sons. The younger generation isn't very good at staying out of debt these days.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

These are good things to know if I am ever in that position or know someone who is in this awful position!

Thanks for the link to your husbands blog....The two Chopin peices were BEAUTIFUL, beyond words...! YouTube is pretty fabulous for just these kinds of things...To be able to see both these clips----What A Gift!

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

About four years ago, we were finally able to get out of debt after we sold our place in CA. We know how overwhelming those calls can be!
This post is very, very good. It could be a lifesaver for anyone who is currently being harassed.
I can remember nearly being in tears every day as our phone rang and rang and rang.
Debt can really wipe you out emotionally.

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny you mentioned this. I owe one very small bill of $168 and this bill collector keeps calling. Geeze act like it's $1680 or something. Well I sent the payment but she still calls. I'm going to keep these in mind if she doesn't leave me alone.


At 1:40 PM, Anonymous presentstorm said...

Hey there, thanks for stopping by.. The little clipboard is 6 inches :) Have a great rest of the week.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Greeneyes said...

Great post , very helpful , wish I new this when I was in school and struggling , some nasty nasty people out there on the other end of the phone ,guess someone has to do it !!!!!!! well they pick the meanies ! LMBO
Take care


At 12:19 AM, Blogger Diane J. said...

Thanks for the information, Lucy. I'm going to send my daughter here to read this.

Hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend, and thanks so much for your prayers for me and my family. :-)

Love and hugs,


At 10:38 AM, Blogger Live, Love, Laugh said...

This is good info: we always have people who contact the police about debt collectors harassing them. I will pass this on.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Jim said...



At 8:23 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU for posting this. I can't tell you how many times this debt collector has called me at home and my husband at work (even after she was told to stop calling my husband's company-paid cell phone) about $133 owed to the doctor who removed my gall-bladder. We will pay it, but through the summer months our electtric bill kept us from paying hardly anything else. Besides, it's only $133, so we figured they're not going to raise a big stink or sue for a measly $133. I mean, it's not like it's thousands of dollars or anything. But this woman won't give up. She has left threatening messages on my home voicemail saying "if you do not pay this debt now you leave me no choice but to take further action in your will lose your home (we don't own a home), your cars (we have one car), and any and all other assets you may have in your possession." She has also told me the police are looking for me because I've basically "stolen" the $133 from the collector. I've saved all these messages in my voicemail and didn't know what I could do about it until now.

Again, Lucy, thank you so much for posting this. I'm not a bad person, I will pay the $133, but I just can't do it all right now in one shot (she said they would not offer me a payment plan because they didn't have to do me any favors). $133 is a lot of money to me -- it's 2 weeks' worth of formula and diapers!


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