Debt Collectors

How to Deal with Debt Collectors

When can a debt collector contact me?
Debt collectors may not contact you at inconvenient times or places. For most people, that would generally mean before 8:00am in the morning or after 9:00pm at night, unless you agree to it. However, for people who have non-typical work schedules, etc., these general guidelines may or may not apply. Also, collectors may not contact you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing—although following up in writing is always better) that you’re not allowed to get calls there.
How can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?
Always be careful when talking to a debt collector. Their job is to pressure you into paying them money. If a collector contacts you about a debt, take everything they tell you with a grain of salt. They are calling to get money out of you, and, many times their bonuses depend on it. If you decide you don’t want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector – and follow up in writing – to stop contacting you.
Can a debt collector contact others about my debt?
A collector may contact other people – but only to find out your address, phone number, and where you work. Collectors are usually not allowed to contact third parties more than once (although even once is bad enough). Still, a debt collector is usually not permitted to discuss your debt with people other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.
Can a debt collector keep contacting me if I don’t owe the money they say I do?
If you send the debt collector a letter stating that you don’t owe any or all of the money, or asking for “verification” (or proof) of the debt, the collector must stop contacting you while they are getting this proof for you. You have to send the letter requesting proof within thirty (30) days after you receive the first collection letter from them stating warning you can ask for validation of the debt. If you really owe the debt, this is not going to really help stop the collections though. A collector can begin contacting you again after sending you written verification of the debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe. And, there are some collection firms that, if you have not made payment arrangements by that time, will go ahead and sue you with the hope of getting a garnishment of your income.
What are some of things debt collectors not allowed to do?
• Threaten you with violence or harm
• Use obscene or profane language
• Falsely claim they are attorneys or work for the government
• Falsely claim you have committed a crime
• Tell you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
• Threaten to take your property (real estate or personal property) unless it can be done legally
• Contact you by postcard.
Can a debt collector garnish my bank account or my wages?
If they have a judgment against you, the answer is “YES”. In fact, they may be able to both at the same time. First, take money out of your paycheck, and then, once your paycheck is direct deposited, they freeze your bank account!! Garnishments hurt too. In Indiana, the typical wage garnishment is 25% of your bring home. About the only ways to stop a wage garnishment once it is started are: 1. Quit your job; 2. Pay the debt; or 3. File Bankruptcy.
What can I do if I think a debt collector has violated the law?
You have the right to sue a collector within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the collector may have to pay you for any damages like lost wages and medical bills. The debt collector may also have to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs. However, even if a debt collector violates the law in trying to collect a debt, the debt does not go away if you owe it.
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