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5 Things Debt Collectors Can Legally Do

Debt collectors have been known to unfairly harass debtors, which is why the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is enforced to regulate this behavior. Under the act, it is illegal for debt collectors to use unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices when they collect debts. For example, debt collectors can’t reach you at inconvenient times or places, which includes not contacting you before 8 in the morning or after 9 in the evening.

However, it’s important to be aware of certain tactics that debt collectors are legally allowed to use to collect. There is a long list of actions collectors can take against you if you default on a debt.

If you fail to pay, debt collectors are within their rights to do any of the following:

  • Sell your debt: Debts that are regulated by the Consumer Credit Act can be sold or placed with another company any time you’ve stopped paying and is a normal part of the debt collection process. Debt collectors can sell any debt, from loans and credit cares to overdrafts. Debt collectors can resell debt if they’re unable to collect on it – it’s not uncommon for one debt collector to stop contacting you, only for another one to pick up the communication.
  • Sue you for payment on a debt: Though this is an option utilized by debt collectors as a last resort, debt collectors can sue you for payment on a debt. Lawsuits can often result in wage garnishment or bank levies, and most debtors fail to show up to court, resulting in losing by default.
  • Seek payment on an expired debt: Debts have a statute of limitations, meaning that after a certain established date, the debt is considered expired and debtors can’t be sued for payment. However, this doesn’t mean that debtors don’t still owe the debt. Debt collectors can still seek payment on debts that have expired, such as credit cards and medical bills.
  • Pressure you: Though debt collectors can’t harass you by threatening you, making repeated calls, and using abusive language, they can still apply pressure so they can collect payment. As long as they are within the bounds of the law, they are allowed to call you, write you letters, and mention pursuing a lawsuit to get you to pay.
  • Negotiate what you owe: Debt collectors can negotiate a settlement with you for 25-30% of what you originally owe. Debt collectors often have large profit margins because they buy debts for pennies on the dollar, so they have flexibility in negotiating payments. However, if you negotiate a settlement, it’s important that you as a debtor get an agreement in writing so creditors don’t come after you even if you paid the agreed-upon amount.

These are just five common tactics that collectors use – there are countless other practices that are within the confines of the law. It’s important to call an attorney if you’re unsure whether you’re being treated unfairly, as you may be eligible to file a claim if a debt collector is breaking the law.

Seasoned Consumer Protection Lawyers at Your Service

At Atlas Consumer Law, our consumer protection attorneys have years of experience defending clients whose rights have been violated. Just because you owe money on a credit card or loan doesn’t mean you’re allowed to be harassed or treated unfairly by creditors or debt collectors. Our team is knowledgeable on all FDCPA matters, meaning we have the experience needed to review your case and determine whether we can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Some damages we’ve recovered for clients who have had their rights violated include lost income, recovery of wage garnishment, attorney fees, and physical and emotional distress. If you suspect your rights are being violated, document any inappropriate contacts from your debt collector and be sure to call us immediately.

Call Atlas Consumer Law at (312) 313-1613, or contact us online if you require legal representation regarding your debt or if you wish to know your rights under FDCPA. If you suspect the tactics debt collectors are using are illegal, our attorneys can assess your situation and determine if you’re eligible to take legal action.