Debtors may not be harassed by collection agencies

Illinois residents may know that debt collectors are restricted by federal law from harassing the debtor. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines boundaries debt collectors are obliged to honor. If the debtor's rights are ignored, a complaint may be filed. The Act includes restrictions about when the collection agent may call. For instance, calls to a debtor may be made between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., and callers are obligated to tell the debtor they are a bill collector. If the debtor has an attorney, the collection agency employee may only contact the attorney. The agent may not call the debtor at his or her workplace if it is not acceptable to the debtor's employer.

The collection agent may not speak in an obscene or threatening manner or threaten imprisonment. In addition, the agent may not send mail that resembles a legal document or intimates that property seizure may occur. The agent may not provide the debtor with information that is untrue, such as falsifying the amount owed.

The collector may not contact anyone other than the original creditor or the credit bureau unless the agent needs to verify address information. In the latter situation, they may only provide their own name and not the agency name. The agent may not say the information they seek is in regard to a debt.

If a debt collection agent violates the consumer rights of a debtor, this could result in damages and attorney fees being paid by the collector. Obtaining legal advice may provide the debtor with guidance as to how this is done and what steps need to be taken to pursue available remedies.

Source: Findlaw, " What Actions Must a Collection Agency Avoid?", December 24, 2014

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