Owing a debt can be a stressful experience. You may feel some measure of shame, helplessness or concern related to it. And if your debt has gone forward into the collections phase, you’re likely having some uneasiness about what happens regarding Utah debt collection.
You are not alone. Most people will, at some point, have debts they cannot pay on time. However, no matter what the specifics of your situation, you have legal rights to protect you in debt collection. By knowing and exercising them, you can save yourself a lot of headaches.
Debt Collectors Cannot Harass You
Harassment may have been the status quo decades ago, but no longer. Continuous phone calls, unpleasant words and veiled threats are not acceptable methods for debt collectors to employ in today’s world. Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), any debt collector seeking to recover money related to a mortgage, credit card or medical expense must follow strict guidelines while doing so. Here are some of the most helpful guidelines for you to know:
Debt collectors may not contact you before 8am or after 9pm.
They cannot contact you at a place they know is inconvenient to you, such as your job.
They cannot engage in harassing conduct toward you or anyone else over the phone or in person.
The law forbids harassment – but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter it. If you do, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has form letters you can send the collector to enforce your legal rights, including letters telling them to stop contacting you and specifying how you want to be contacted.
It is important to note that stopping contact does not discharge the debt. Collectors may still take legal action or find alternate ways of collecting. While form letters may prove helpful to preventing harassment, you should still have a plan for how to deal with the outstanding debt going forward.
You Must Be Informed of the Specifics of the Debt
Also within the FDCPA is the requirement that debt collectors must tell you certain information about the debt they’re trying to collect. If you’re being contacted by a debt collector, they are required by law to tell you:
The name of the creditor
The amount claimed to be owed
That you can dispute the debt
The last point, that you can dispute the debt, is crucial. According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines, if you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of the initial communication, the debt collector must stop all collection activity until they provide written verification of the debt (assuming they have not already).
If You Have a Lawyer, the Collector Must Go Through Them
Having a lawyer to defend you against debt collection is very helpful. The FDCPA provides that if you have a lawyer, the debt collector can only contact your lawyer regarding your debt. This takes the emotional toll of debt collection off your shoulders.
With the right lawyer on your side, you could possibly negotiate a lower amount to settle the debt. An experienced attorney in your area will also know about helpful state laws in addition to the FDCPA.
If you live in Utah and are having an issue with debt collectors, contact us at Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today. We will ensure your matter is handled in the best way possible to save you money and time.