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Know Your Rights

If you want to reduce the amount of debt, you can do some work on your own. First, develop a realistic budget so you can see your income and expenses in one place and look for ways to save money. You can get help for help in creating a budget online. Also, contact your creditors and inform them that you are having difficulty making payments; they may be able to modify your payment plan.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to those who collect debts owed to creditors for personal, family and household debts. These include car loans, mortgages, charge accounts and money owed for medical bills. A debt collector is someone hired to collect money you owe.

Within five days after a debt collector first contacts you, the collector must send you a notice that tells you the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and what action to take if you believe you don't owe the money.

If you owe the money or part of it, contact the creditor to arrange for payment.

If you believe you don't owe the money, contact the creditor in writing and send a copy to the collection agency with a letter telling them not to contact you. A debt collector may not:

  • Contact you at unreasonable times, for example, before 8 am or after 9 pm, unless you agree.
  • Contact you at work if you tell the debt collector your employer disapproves.
  • Contact you after you write a letter telling them to stop, except to notify you if the collector or creditor plans to take a specific action.
  • Contact your friends, relatives, employer or others, except to find out where you live and work.
  • Harass you with repeated telephone calls, profane language, or threats to harm you.
  • Make any false statement, or claim that you will be arrested.
  • Threaten to have money deducted from your paycheck or sue you, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and it is legal.

To file a complaint, contact your local consumer protection office, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Debt Collection Emails

When communicating with consumers through email, debt collectors must observe the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is important for you and creditors or collection agencies to save and store copies of all communication, which will be important if there is as disagreement later.

To take steps towards maintaining privacy, conduct all communications via email using either secure email platforms or industry-specific communication platforms. Never give a workplace email account as a contact address, as there is no legal expectation of privacy for a workplace email account.