Fighting back against debt collectors

Minnesota residents may wonder what rights they have when debt collectors start to call. Some debt collectors make their livings by seeking payments from consumers who do not know the law. People who understand the protections of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may better be able to assert themselves and help avoid creditor harassment.

First, after debt collectors first make contact, they are required to provide the consumers with details about the money allegedly owed. If a consumer disputes the debt within 30 days, the debt collector may not continue collection efforts until they have provided the person with verification of the debt. Some debt collectors will insist that a person provide personal information, such as a Social Security number or date of birth, before they will verify the debt, but the law does not require this information. It is also important to be aware that a creditor cannot garnish someone's wages or bank account without a court order, although some creditors will make this threat.

A consumer is not required to speak with debt collectors at all. When telephone calls and letters get to be too much, the recipient should send a letter to the creditor via certified mail, insisting that they cease all communication immediately. The letter does not stop the debt collector from filing a lawsuit, but it will stop harassment until the suit is filed. The creditor may send a letter stating that it intends to sue, but other communication is prohibited.

When debts mount up or creditor telephone calls become too much to bear, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to determine what forms of relief are available. It may be possible to discharge some unsecured debts using the protections of Chapter 7.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, "9 secrets your debt collector doesn’t want you to know", Allison Martin, August 01, 2014

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