Stop Ohio Creditor Calls

CandlestickTelephoneGalNot The Bosses Of Us

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates the conduct of third-party debt collectors and debt-purchasers; essentially, this covers anybody using an interstate medium–like a telephone line, or the mail, to collect debts on behalf of, or purchased from, another creditor.

Note: The original owner of the debt is still good-to-go if he wants to ring you up at 4am and scream his lungs out, and third party collectors calling on debts incurred in business are exempted from the FDCPA.

Call Me Not

The FDCPA provides that collectors may not:

  • call repeatedly for purposes of harrassment, annoyance or abuse,
  • call when they have been advised the debtor has a lawyer,
  • call a debtor’s work if they debtor has told them not to,
  • pretend to be lawyers or police officers,
  • threaten to sue you, or garnish wages, unless they’re in a position to and actually intend to do it,
  • use abusive or profane language to help collect the debt,
  • contact family or friends (other than spouses or lawyers) to discuss your debt, or the nature of your debt,
  • threaten to, or post, false information to a credit report to help collect the debt.

They “Bought” Your Debt; Now Make Em By The Book

The FDCPA gives the collector a litany he or she has to follow before starting in on you. Check this out:

  • Within five days of initial contact with you, the collector must send a notice that you have the right to dispute the debt.
  • Collectors must identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector, and any information received will be used to collect that debt.

Sometimes You Can Collect From Them

  • Record all calls, if your state allows it. The best evidence is incontrovertible.
  • Get a name or some identification from the collector–they have to provide it.
  • Ask for the preferred mailing address of the collector–they have to provide it.
  • Send everything certified mail, requiring signature and allowing for tracking.
  • Keep copies!
  • Watch the mail for your five-day notice.
  • As soon as possible after you receive the five day-notice, write the collector–it must be in writing–that you want the collector to “validate” the debt he or she claims you owe.
  • You have to do this within 30 days of receiving your “right to dispute” notice. If you wait longer than 30 days, collectors don’t have to verify the debt to you.
  • Collectors must note disputed debts on your credit report; also, they must either verify the debt, or cease collection.
  • A proper “verification,” includes the name and address of original creditor and the amount owed.
  • If the collector verifies the debt, write again–it must be in writing–that you wish the collector to cease all communication immediately. In the same letter, tell the creditor you should not be called, or written to, at work.
  • Then wait. Reputable and honest collectors will leave you be, and usually return the debt back to its original holder.

They’re Getting Sloppy

  • But many debt collectors run sloppy shops, and think they’ll never get caught abusing debtors or consumers.
  • What’s worse, collections are often outsourced to areas of the world with little, if any, understanding of the cultural norms and legal customs of areas in which they collect.
  • Poorly trained and subject to high turnover, collectors will often violate the FDCPA. When they do, they have to pay.

Get Up, Stand Up

  • When the collector calls or writes again, or does any of the things they’re not allowed to do, take the records, recordings and information to your attorney, or find an attorney specializing in debt collection suits with the help of your local bar association.
  • Guilty collectors can owe you as much as $1000 per incident plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • As a last resort, a bankruptcy filing is virtually guaranteed to stop all collection calls.
  • The “automatic stay” provision protects bankruptcy filers from collection actions.