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Collection Agencies

A creditor may turn your account over to a debt-collection agency if you fall behind or stop making debt payments on your account. This is a sign that the creditor has given up on you making payment. At this point, you will no longer receive past due notices in the mail. Instead, the collection agency will contact you and try to get payment from you.

The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates the actions a collection agency can take.
Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a collection agency:
  • Must send you written notice of the amount you owe, the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe it.
  • May contact you in person, by mail, by telephone, or by telegram between the hours of 8AM and 9PM.
  • May not contact you at work if you tell them that your employer does not allow such phone calls to be received.
  • May not address you in an abusive manner.
  • May not call other people (i.e., family and friends) in an effort to collect your debt.
  • If a collection agency violates those conditions, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, your state attorney general's office and/or the Better Business Bureau. If you do this, you must send the collection agency a written notice to stop harassing you and advise them that you have filed a complaint against them.
  • You can also advise a creditor or collection agency in writing that you refuse to pay a debt or that you wish for them to stop all communication with you. While this doesn't cancel the debt it prevents the collection agency from contacting you until it proceeds with a legal remedy such as a lawsuit, judgments, or lien.

Further resources:

Federal Trade Commission
www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm

State's Attorney General listed in the telephone book under government listings.

Better Business Bureau listed in the telephone book.

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