Various federal and state laws require creditors and debt collectors to avoid practices that might be considered deceptive or unfair to consumers. One result of these laws is that there are limitations on how and when creditors and debt collectors can contact you to try to collect a debt. That includes where you work, though you have to know your rights and assert them to gain this protection.
Learn more about your rights under laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) below. Find out how a debt defense lawyer can help if you are facing down creditors or don’t know how you’ll make ends meet.
Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work?
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot continue to try to contact you at your place of work if you tell them you aren’t allowed to receive such phone calls there. In fact, under the FDCPA, if a debt collector breaks these laws by continuing to contact you at work after you have made this known, you might be able to sue them. Understanding your consumer rights under federal and state laws helps you know what actions to take when you’re contacted by collectors.
It’s important to note that not all creditors who might call you about debt are considered debt collectors. Typically, debt collectors are agencies collecting debt on behalf of another business. If a business collects its own debt under a different name, it’s also considered a debt collector. However, a business collecting debt under its own name is considered a creditor and not a debt collector.
Here are some examples to illustrate the difference:
- Jones Bank calling you about the auto loan you have with them is a creditor
- ABC Collections, a third-party agency, calling you about a balance you originally had with Jones Bank is a debt collector
- Smith Doctors Clinic calling you about a bill is a creditor
- Smith Collections, which is a business that’s part of the parent company that owns Smith Doctors Clinic, calling you about a balance is, in most cases, a debt collector
The difference matters because the FDCPA covers debt collectors but not creditors. However, the FTCA covers creditors and includes the same rule that they can’t keep contacting you at work if you tell them such calls are prohibited. The difference is that you can’t sue creditors if they break the rules; you can only report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
What Are Some Other Limitations on Debt Collectors?
Debt collectors are required to limit calls to your home, cell phone, or other locations to hours most people would likely be awake. That means they can only call you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. your time unless you specifically agree to be contacted at other times of the day (or night).
When they do contact you, debt collectors have to treat you with some semblance of professionalism. They can’t act in a way that is harassing or threatening, including using obscene language or calling you repeatedly in an attempt to annoy you into compliance. They also can’t lie to you about the debt or pretend they are someone with more authority than they are.
How Can You Stop a Debt Collector From Calling You?
If you request in writing that a debt collector stop contacting you, they must comply. They can only contact you after that to confirm that they received the letter and will stop contacting you or to inform you of further action to collect the debt (usually this means a lawsuit).
Simply telling a debt collector that you don’t want to be contacted doesn’t remove the debt. If you still owe it, the debt collector may continue to work to collect it in other ways.
Another way to stop a debt collector from calling you is to let them know you are represented in the matter by a lawyer. Once you provide your lawyer’s contact information, the debt collector should contact your lawyer instead of you.
If you’re dealing with a lot of debt—and calls and letters from multiple creditors and collectors— one way to halt all this activity immediately is to file for bankruptcy. As soon as you file a petition of bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means creditors are legally barred from trying to collect the debt so the bankruptcy process can occur.
Bankruptcy is an extreme step that should be reserved for after you’ve tried other solutions to manage your debt. This is because it can have serious consequences on your finances and credit immediately and in the future. However, when applied to the right cases, these types of solutions can help you reduce creditor harassment and create a financial situation that lets you recover and grow in the future.
Work With an Experienced Debt Lawyer
Whether you’re dealing with debt collectors that are stepping outside the law and harassing you or you’re at a loss as to how to right your personal finance ship, an experienced debt lawyer can help. Contact the Holland Law Office in Loveland, Colorado, today to find out how we can help you find solid ground when it comes to finances and debt.