It doesn’t matter who you are, at some point in your life you are going to experience a disagreement with a debt collector. It could be that you are not guilty of what they are accusing, or it could be some other type of disagreement.
The next thing you know, you are receiving harassing phone calls and threats that you’ll be turned over to a collection agency. If that happens, it seems you cannot talk to anyone; you just keep getting passed around from call to call, if they even bother to return your calls.
Meanwhile, your credit score is being adversely affected; it is plummeting and you are helpless, or so it would seem. But there are things you can do in your own defense to help keep this from happening to you. Once the process starts, it is a nightmare to deal with.
As a consumer, you have rights, and there are restrictions on what can happen. There are two different issues:
- The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, which governs what debt collection companies and collectors can do; and,
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act, which primarily concerns what credit reporting bureaus can do.
Under both statutes, you are entitled to statutory damages up to the amount of $1,000, and for your attorney’s fees to be paid by the offending debt collector or credit reporting bureau. Both statutes also provide for actual damages in cases where you have been harassed through calls to neighbors or your job; also if these bad collectors cause you to lose your car or home loan.
You may think that you cannot afford to hire an attorney, particularly if you are already having financial problems. However, because the statutes award you attorney’s fees, they will be paid through the statute.
If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Attorney Directory to find an attorney in your area.