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Your Debt Repayment Rights

Following an era of indulgence and over spending, America is right now embroiled in a credit mess with thousands of people in over their heads in consumer debt. It can be a frightening and stressful situation as more and more mortgages are foreclosed and people are losing their homes and cars and everything else to living outside their means.

Fortunately for us, we have rights as American citizens protecting us from abusive debt recovery methods, and ensuring that we are treated fairly through the debt collection process. In 1978 the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed in response to several reports of unscrupulous and harassing methods debt recovery agencies were employing. The following discusses the limitations of debt recovery agencies when striving to collect debts from you.

The hours for phone contact were limited; debt recovery agencies are restricted to contacting consumers by telephone between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time. Debt collectors are also prohibited from harassing consumers by calling repeatedly or causing their phone to ring repeatedly for the purpose of annoying or intimidating the consumer.

Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting consumers at their place of employment after having been informed in writing that they are not to do so.

Contacting consumers in any way (other than litigation) after receiving written notice that the consumer wishes no further contact or refuses to pay the alleged debt, with certain exceptions, including advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies is prohibited. It is also prohibited to contact a consumer after being informed in writing that the consumer is being represented by an attorney. Any communication involving debt recovery between the consumer and collector are to take place through the attorney at that point.

Collectors are forbidden to contact the consumer or the pursue collection after receiving a consumer’s written request for verification of a debt (or for the name and address of the original creditor on a debt) before responding by sending the consumer the requested verification information.

It is forbidden to misrepresent the debt or use deception to collect the debt, including a debt collector claiming to be an attorney or law enforcement officer, or threatening arrest or pursue legal action that is either not permitted or not actually planned.

It is inappropriate and forbidden to publish the consumer’s name or address on a “bad debt” list, report false information on a consumer’s credit report or threaten to do so in the process of collection

It is inappropriate for debt recovery agencies to seek unjustified amounts, which includes demanding any amounts not required under an applicable contract or as provided under applicable law.

Collectors are prohibited from contacting third parties (other than the consumer’s spouse or attorney) to reveal or discuss the nature of debts, or threatening to do so.

Of course the best protection from harassing debt collectors is timely payment of debts and living within a budget. The painful situation many Americans are finding themselves in now is a lesson they will hopefully learn well and avoid any imprudent over spending in the future.

There are ethical methods for debt recovery and Alexander & Hamilton ( represent you fairly, following the guidelines outlined in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Art Gibb is a freelance writer.

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