The two words that strike fear into the heart of consumers the most are “debt collection”. Hearing these words means the consumer has failed to pay their bills on time, or at all, and now the debt collectors are seeking what they feel is owed to them. Sometimes the collection comes from the original owner of the debt, but it’s more likely to be sold off for pennies on the dollar to collection agencies who then pursue the debtor with the ferocity of a thousand suns.

Being on the receiving end of collectors’ constant harassment in their pursuit of debt repayment is a miserable place to be. Short of paying off the debt or filing for bankruptcy, the contact isn’t going to cease. But there are ways with which to handle debt collectors to get them to back off, especially if they are breaking the law.

Understanding Debtors' Rights When Faced With Debt Collection

The Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act  is a set of rules that all debt collectors must abide by or else, per the Federal Trade Commission. Violating any of the rules can result in punishment in the form of fines and attorney fees that go directly to the plaintiff and their lawyer. However, debt collectors routinely push or break the law, often because they believe the debtor is ignorant of their rights.

The FDCPA outlines how and when a collector can contact the debtor. Any contact outside of the defined hours or who can be contacted is seen as a violation. A debt collector opens themselves up to a lawsuit each and every time they break the laws. The collector is also responsible for paying the attorney fees of the plaintiff who brought the lawsuit. Disregarding the rules laid down by the FDCPA can be very costly for a collection agency.

How to Fight Back Against a Debt Collector

The first step is to read the FDCPA and understand the terms within, as shown on the relevant page at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School, before making contact via a letter or talking to an attorney. More information about debt collection can be found at moneytips.com. Understanding what, who and how are vital to determining if a claim is valid or not. Sometimes the contact is legitimate, even though it is harassing, and doesn’t have any legal recourse.

Maintain a log of all contact, and if there are voicemails, save them into a file or on a voice recorder. If a conversation is held, record it but make sure to follow state laws regarding recording a phone call. Some states don’t require notification of the other party while others do. The more evidence of abuse by a creditor, the better the chances of success in court.

No one ever intends to get into debt, but life can be cruel and take away income when least expected. There is no denying the debt is owed, but there is also no denying that the debtor should be treated with dignity at the very least. When the collector fails to recognize this, the laws can be used to protect the debtor.