Sometimes the worst happens: A sudden illness or you lose your job, and suddenly you can’t pay your bills and you fall significantly behind. The demand letters and collection calls start coming, and coming, and you start dreading when the phone rings. Very few creditors understand your money issues; instead, they threaten you with lawsuits and wage garnishments, and report you to the credit bureaus. It can be incredibly stressful and demoralizing. You may need help from an attorney or financial expert witness.
Debt Collector Rules
While debt collectors have a job to do, they are highly regulated on how they can do it. They must comply with the Fair Debt Collections Act. Among other things, it forbids them from:
• Threatening you with arrest or violence
• Contacting your neighbors or relatives to tell them about your debt
• Calling before 8 a.m. local time or after 9 p.m.
• Cursing at you or using abusive language
• Showing up at your home demanding payment
In addition, you have the right to demand proof of the debt, and if you request in writing that they cease calling you at home and/or your place of employment, they must honor that request. You also have the right to sue them if you think your rights under the law have been violated. Your state may offer you additional rights as well. For example, in New York, creditors are forbidden to freeze your bank account if the balance is less than $2500. If it is more than that, they are only permitted to freeze a certain percentage. They are not allowed to leave you with nothing.
If you feel your rights have been violated, seek the advice of an attorney. If you’re being sued by a creditor or agency and feel they have broken the law, you should also seek legal representation, and to help your case, you should contact a financial expert witness who can unbiasedly testify about the ins and outs of the law and explain exactly how the creditor is in violation.
Don’t be afraid to fight back. Recently, there have been class-action suits filed against several well-known debt collection agencies, and the plaintiffs won. Sometimes debt happens, but harassment and abuse by debt collectors never should. Michael F. Richards is the financial expert witness who is ready to help with your case.