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How to Deal with Debt Collectors

Know your rights and how to get a debt collector to stop calling you.

By
Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #170

Getting behind on bills and owing past due money is a terrible position to be in. But the good news is that even if you owe money to a creditor, you still have rights. In this article, I’ll discuss the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA). That’s the law that debt collectors have to follow.

The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)

It doesn’t matter if the collector works for a collection agency, a corporate collections department, a third party, or is an attorney. The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act covers personal debt such as medical bills, car loans, mortgages, and money owed on credit cards—but it doesn’t cover business debts.

What Can a Debt Collector Say About You?

When a debt collector starts the collections process, they need to know where you live, your phone number, and where you work, for instance. They might call a relative or a business, like a utility company, to get the scoop on you. An important rule that’s often violated is that debt collectors may not discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney. So if they call your boss and tell her that you don’t pay your bills, for instance, they’ve crossed the line! I’ll tell you what recourse you have against a collector who violates the law in a moment.

When Can a Debt Collector Contact You?

You may be surprised to know that a debt collector can’t just ring you up any time they feel like it. They can’t call you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm in your time zone. They can’t call you at work if you notify them that you’re not allowed to take calls there. And if you have an attorney who is representing you about your debt, a collector must speak to them, not to you.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlersbook is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.