When debt collectors contact you, it’s important to remember that you have rights. Those rights are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects you from unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices.
If a debt collector takes the following actions, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You may also be able to sue the debt collector for damages.
#1) Harassing You
Here in New Jersey, debt collectors may only call at certain times:
- Monday through Friday
- Between the hours of 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM
- Never on holidays
If they call outside those times, they’re guilty of harassing you. They are not allowed to call more than once a day. They also aren’t allowed to call you at work if they know your employer doesn’t allow such calls, contact you if they know an attorney represents you, or use abusive language.
In fact, all you ever have to do to stop debt collector calls is to send them a letter stating that they may only contact you via US Mail. They cannot call you at all once you ask them to stop.
#2) Making False or Misleading Statements
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to lie to you about actions they can’t take under the law or actions they have no intention of taking.
- They can’t claim they can immediately garnish your debt.
- They can’t claim you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay the debt.
- They can’t claim to have a lien on the property they don’t have.
- They can’t claim to sue you if they know they’re already legally barred from suing you.
- Threatening to publicly shame you.
They must remain truthful with you throughout the process.
#3) Making Violent Threats
Some debt collectors have gotten out of control, threatening either bodily harm or property damage if you won’t pay the debt. This is not only a criminal act under the law in New Jersey, but it’s also against the FDCPA as well.
Debt collectors do not have the legal right to hurt you or your family just because you owe them money.
#4) Attempting to Collect Disputed Debts
A debt collector may not collect debts that aren’t yours. If you dispute the debt, the debt collector must stop collection efforts until they can verify it.
Of course, in practice, debt collectors almost always say they’ve verified the debt, and it’s yours. If you think they’re wrong, don’t pay them.
#5) Collecting Debts Past the Statute of Limitations
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is six years. A debt collector can’t sue you for debts past the six-year mark, and debts will usually fall off your credit report by the seven-year mark.
In those cases, paying the debt or engaging with debt collectors rarely makes sense.
Get Help Today
The debt collectors you should worry about are the ones who can sue you for a debt or who can repossess the property you need to survive. If debt collectors threaten either of those actions, it’s time to contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
The team at Labayen Law is ready to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.