An out-of-state woman received a phone call from two debt collectors telling her that she owed a total of approximately $2,400 for some payday loans that she took out when times were tough. The problem was that she knew she had paid the loans back. However, like many Florida residents who receive harassing phone calls from creditors regarding their unsecured debt, she sent them money out of fear that they would follow through on their threats to file lawsuits against her.
The woman asked for confirmation that she owed the money. However, the people on the other end of the phone refused to provide it. In fact, she claims that they told her that she would only see the paperwork once a lawsuit was filed.
What this California woman did not know is that consumers have rights when it comes to debt collection. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets out rules that debt collectors must follow. This includes providing written proof of a debt to a consumer. Furthermore, a consumer can stop harassing phone calls by writing a letter to the creditor or collection agency asking them not to make contact by phone.
There are other rules that the FDCPA includes that protect consumers as well. Florida residents who are unable to pay their debts and make ends meet do not need the added stress of receiving creditors’ harassing phone calls, and people in that position may do well to consult a bankruptcy attorney. In addition to making sure that creditors follow the rules set out in the FDCPA, an attorney can provide information and advice on debt relief options, such as filing for bankruptcy, in order to deal with one’s secured and unsecured debt.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “When collectors call, demand proof of your debt“, David Lazarus, Jan. 26, 2016