If your consumer debt has gotten out of hand in Minnesota, it may seem as though you “owe everybody,” and “everybody” is constantly harassing you by phone to collect their debts. Actually, this is not true. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents third-party creditors from harassing you.
A third-party creditor is not someone to whom you owe money. Rather, it is someone like a collection agency that collects debts for the people or companies to which you owe money. For instance, if you are substantially behind on your credit card payments, collection agencies may buy those debts, usually at a discount, and then proceed to try to collect them from you themselves.
Per the FDCPA, these third-party creditors cannot do any of the following:
- Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Call you at work if you tell them not to
- Call your family, neighbors or friends about your debt
- Threaten to file a collection lawsuit against you unless they really intend to do so
- Threaten to bring criminal charges against you or to notify immigration officials
- Use any type of abusive language when talking to you
In addition, they must identify themselves as debt collectors every time they call and must inform you that you can dispute the debt. They cannot use any type of false, misleading or deceptive information when talking to you.
Technically, the original people or companies to which you owe money can harass you by phone for payment of their respective debts since the FDCPA does not apply to them. Unfortunately, Minnesota is not one of the 18 states with state laws that extend third-party creditor prohibitions to original creditors.
Should you receive harassing phone calls or voicemails from third-party creditors, you have the right to sue them for any damages you suffer as a result of their calls that violated the FDCPA. A jury may award you your legal fees and an additional $1,000 above and beyond your actual damages if the collection agency used particularly egregious tactics.