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Illegal Bill Collection

1. You can stop all phone calls from a credit collector by sending them a written request to stop. Ask the caller for the name and address of the company and send a REGISTERED letter, return receipt requested. This is your proof. Remember that debts are often sold by one company to another and youíll have to do this for each company in turn.

2. A collector cannot ask you for a postdated check. This is illegal. Tell him so. Then tell him youíll be turning on a tape recorder so there is no confusion about his request. Heíll hang up quickly.

3. A collector may not force you to pay for collect calls or telegram fees.

4. A credit card collector may not threaten to take your house, your car or threaten physical harm. This is a major violation and should be reported to your local office of the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

5. Collectors must follow certain etiquette when calling. They may only call during reasonable hours (no three a.m. calls). They may not use foul language and they may not call relatives or employers and inform them of your debt. If tape recording is legal in your state, keep one hooked up to the phone to catch such violations.

6. Donít be frightened by letters that appear to be from a lawyer. Look at the bottom and youíll usually find a statement saying that it is simply a collection agency trying to collect the debt.

Finally, if collectors are harassing you donít get angry or upset. Simply tell them that you know your rights and quote the passages that they are violating. Then ask permission to tape record the conversation so that there will be no misunderstanding. Collectors working within the law wonít mind being recorded. Everyone else will hang up.

What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?

Harassment.
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • Use threats of violence or harm.
  • Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau).
  • Use obscene or profane language. Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

    False statements.
    Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • Falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives.
  • Falsely imply that you have committed a crime.
  • Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau.
  • Misrepresent the amount of your debt.
  • Indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not.
  • Indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.

    Debt collectors also may not state that:

  • You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.
  • They will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so.
  • Actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.

    Debt collectors may not:

  • Give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau.
  • Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.
  • Use a false name.

    Unfair practices.
    Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:

  • Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge.
  • Deposit a post-dated check prematurely.
  • Use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.
  • Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally.
  • Contact you by postcard.

    What control do you have over payment of debts?
    If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.

    What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?
    You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney's fees also can be recovered. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

    Where can you report a debt collector for an alleged violation?
    Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws, and your Attorney General's office can help you determine your rights.

    Click Here - To See The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act!

    Click Here - To File Online a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission reporting the collectors harrassment!

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