The following is a guest post by Bankruptcy Boot Camp Graduate Brian T. Canupp.
The present status of the economy is forcing consumers to make tough decisions about how to spend the money they have in hand. Households throughout the nation have fewer dollars to spend due to increases in the costs of daily living, (food, gas, health insurance, medicine). These increases in costs are magnified when there has been a decrease in money due to a job loss or decrease in work hours.
When it comes time to spend fewer dollars families are forced to pay for food, housing and medical care ahead of their debt. Money sent to Visa is money that can not be used to put food on the dinner table or gas in the tank. Families are also deciding to allow the “new car” to be repossessed so they can save money. Setting these financial priorities is essential to taking control of your money.
However, after making the very tough decision to stop making payments you can expect debt collectors to start calling. Let’s face it, you entered into a contract with the creditor and they aren’t getting paid—if you were in their shoes you would want to know why and so do they. Asking why you are late or trying to determine when you can make a payment are completely legitimate goals and are 100% legal. However, if you follow the law you aren’t likely to get any money and getting money is the ultimate goal!
In the 1970’s Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. During the recession of the late 1970’s it became clear that Americans were being forced into Bankruptcy in order to stop harassing debt collectors. Realizing that Bankruptcy is not always the best option, the FDCPA was enacted to set the rules of the road regarding how to collect a debt.
In the last 30 years, the FDCPA has been there to protect consumers from the high pressure and super aggressive tactics used to collect debt. Most consumers have no idea that the FDCPA exists. They assume that if they owe money the collector can abuse them all they want. This is so Wrong!!!!
It is Illegal for a debt collector to do the following:
- call you repeatedly;
- call you at work;
- call your friends and family to discuss your debts;
- threaten you with arrest;
- Use profane, abusive, or offensive language in talking with you;
- Threaten you with evection from your home;
- Threaten to have your children placed in foster care;
- Ask you for a post dated check for purpose of threatening criminal prosecution;
- Make telephone calls without disclosing their identity;
This list is not all inclusive but hits the high points. A good rule of thumb is that if the debt collector says things to you that you can not repeat to your Grandmother then the FDCPA has been violated.
If you have had phone conversations with debt collectors that you can’t talk to your Grandmother about then your rights under the law have most likely been violated.
It may not seem possible but your problems with money can get better. You just have to take the first step. In this case the first step is to stop the illegal harassment.
A version of this post is available on Brian’s blog.