If you’ve ever been behind on your bills, you’re familiar with collection agencies and their tactics. Did you know you could do something about it? According to MSN Money, people are getting fed up with collectors who violate their rights and they’re suing - and winning! Federal law allows individuals to get a thousand dollars for each abuse of their rights, plus any damages and attorney fees. Sometimes, one phone call can have multiple violations. If you think you’ve been abused by debt collectors and want to sue, here are some tips on how to do it.
- First thing? Know is your rights! The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says that collection agents can’t harass you, lie to you, use obscene or profane language, make multiple calls in a short period of time, or threaten you illegally with arrests or lawsuits. In addition, they’re not supposed to call before 8 in the morning or after 9 in the evening, or at your job if you’ve told them you can’t receive calls there.
- Next, make the collector show proof. One in four calls to the Federal Trade Commission are complaints about debt collections, including that they’re trying to recoup debts you don’t actually owe, trying to collect more than you owe or using harassing or threatening behavior to force you to pay. So the first time you’re contacted about a debt, ask them to prove it. They’re then required to give you detailed documentation showing that the bill is actually yours.
- Also, half of all debt collectors use automated calling systems, but if the prerecorded message doesn’t reveal the name of the debt collector or what the call is about – it’s considered deceptive.
- One final illegal debt-collection practice: Trying to coerce you into providing a “token payment” or a “good faith payment” just to make them go away. Until they’ve proven – in writing – that the debt is yours, don’t give them a penny! Even paying $1 is considered an acknowledgement that you’re responsible for the entire debt, and they’ll keep going after you.
Creditors don’t have the right to harass and threaten you to get their money, and if they do, you can strike back! If you’d like to know more, check out the website PrivacyRights.org.