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Category:  Money

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Debt Collection Protection

You Have Rights

By Carl Hampton

The Council of Better Business Bureaus says that complaints against debt collectors, after plunging in 2005, are rising again. They surged 20% in 2006, and 26% in 2007.

Even the Federal Trade Commission says that they have seen a steady rise in debt collector complaints, and they receive the majority of them!

Common consumer complaints include debt collectors attempting to collect on more than what is owed; the use of vulgar language in an aggressive manner; the addition of late fees, court costs, and lawyers' fees; sharing of the consumers' personal debt information with family, friends, or work colleagues.

As the economy slumps, more people are falling behind in their loan payments, and consumer debts. Debt collectors are showing more aggression when it comes to collecting on delinquent loans, resorting to questionable debt collection tactics.

At the best of times, debt collectors can be aggressive when it comes to the collection of delinquent loans, however, debtors' lawyers comment that people falling behind in paying their bills are being threatened.

Some tactics being used to collect debts include false information in writing; false lawsuits; false pretense of assuming the identity of a lawyer; garnishment of Social Security benefits - illegally; intimidation and harassment; threats of prison; unauthorized, and improper, withdrawals from the consumers' bank account.

Federal Law prohibits debt collectors from repeatedly calling borrowers' especially if the debt collection agency has received a formal request in writing. It is also against the law for debt collectors to threaten people with lawsuits.

Debt collectors take advantage of the fact that most consumers do not know their rights.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you in a fair, and ethical manner.

If you find yourself having to fight back against an aggressive, and unethical, debt collector here's some expert advice: the amount of your debt cannot be a misrepresentation; debt collectors cannot use profane, vulgar or threatening language; your retirement accounts (401k, Federal Benefits, Social Security) cannot be legally claimed by a debt collector; you cannot be called before the hours of 8.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m.; if your place of employment disapproves, a debt collector cannot call you at work; by law, a debt collector cannot contact you if you write them a letter asking them not to - you still owe the debt, and can still be sued, but at least you won't have the added stress of all those harassing phone calls.

Some debts have an expiration date - in California, it is generally 4 years from the date of breach (if a Written Agreement), and 2 years if an Oral Agreement.

If you don't think that the debt belongs to you write to the debt collection agency within 30 days, they are obligated to send you proof of the debt. If you do not owe the debt do not be intimidated to pay it.

We've all faced some sort of financial catastrophe that has caused us to fall behind on our bill payments - whether it be ill-health or an accident, maybe even job loss - but if the money is owed, it is only fair to maintain your own personal ethical code by making every effort to pay off the debt.

About the Author: Have an opinion or a question you would like me to answer, then write to me! http://www.CarlHampton.com "Your" Money Matters By Carl Hampton Author of "From Credit Despair To Credit Millionaire"



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