Know Your Rights! Part II: Fighting Back Against Debt Collectors
Last week, we talked about what creditors can and cannot do under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). We discussed what kinds of limitations creditors and debt collectors have when they are trying to collect a debt from you. You can read more about that here. This week, we will go a little further and talk about what you can do under the FDCPA and how it can help you fight back against creditors.
Your Requirements under the FDCPA
Creditors have many restrictions under the FDCPA. Fortunately, you, as a debtor, have very few. In fact, you are not actually required to do anything once your debt is in collections. That means that you do not have to:
- Discuss anything with the debt collector
- Take phone calls from the debt collector
- Return phone calls to the debt collector
- Avoid hanging up on the debt collector
- Acknowledge that you owe them any money at all
You are not even required to be truthful with the debt collector. Instead, the FDCPA allows you to request a written verification of the debt that the collector is contacting you about. Once the debt collector has contacted you, you have 30 days to request that they “validate” the debt that you owe them. You must make this request in writing, and it should be sent via certified mail.
If, for whatever reason, they cannot validate your debt, then the creditor cannot collect the debt! That also means that they can no longer contact you about collecting the debt. If they keep attempting to collect from you, then that could be grounds for a lawsuit.
Speaking with the Creditor or Debt Collector
If you choose to speak with the debt collector (and remember, you do not have to!), then you should keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, you should NEVER give your personal banking information to a debt collector. They will occasionally try to trick you into providing this information as a way to pay a portion of your debt—do not fall for this trick! Once they have your bank account information, you have very little control over how your debt will be paid. They may even take more than they told you that they would.
If the debt is an old debt, the creditor may not even be legally allowed to make collection efforts against the debt. This is because the statute of limitations has expired. The statute of limitations is a legally prescribed period of the time that the creditor has to collect on a debt. If they do not collect within this period, then it becomes illegal to make collection attempts. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, and it depends on what type of debt you have. You can find out more about statutes of limitations here.
You can actually reset the statute of limitations based on your actions with the debt collector. That is why you should never make a partial payment on an old debt or admit that you owe anything on the debt. Both of these things could reset the statute of limitations.
If debt collectors are harassing you, Leaf Credit Repair can help you formulate a plan to deal with them. We can also help you get your credit back on track afterwards. Find out more by calling 1-800-818-6358. You can also use our online contact form to get started.