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What a debt collector can and can’t do

Debt can quickly grow to unmanageable levels. Debtors may be trying very hard to eliminate credit card debt and still find themselves at the mercy of a ruthless debt collector. It is important to understand what a debt collector can and cannot say or do under the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

First of all, many people wonder if a collection agency is permitted to call their place of employment. The answer is yes, unless the agency is informed verbally or in written form that the debtor can’t accept such calls at work. A debt collector is allowed to contact an employer or family members but only to try and locate the debtor. They are not permitted to say they are collecting a debt and can only contact the third party one time.

Since some debt collectors try almost any tactic to get debtors to pay, it’s important to understand they can’t have a debtor sent to jail or pretend to be a paralegal or a lawyer. They are also not allowed to telephone during all hours of the day or night. Typically, collection calls are confined to the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the debtor’s time zone. Collectors are also prohibited from using foul language or threatening violence.

It’s important to be aware that a creditor may be allowed to go to court and obtain a judgment. This may allow the creditor to legally garnish wages or take other assets.

If personal debt is out of control and collection calls are becoming overwhelming, it may be useful to consult an attorney who deals in bankruptcy issues. It may be possible for an attorney to review an individual’s assets and offer advice on the best course of action for a fresh financial start.

Source: ABC 15.com, “Is it legal for a debt collector to call you at work?,” Rachael Mason, Jan. 4, 2013

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