Behind in paying your bills? You might find a debt collector calling. But the law says how and when they can do that. For example, they can’t call before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while you’re at work if the collector knows that your employer doesn’t approve of the calls. Collectors may not harass you or lie when they try to collect a debt. And, if you ask them in writing to stop calling, they have to stop.
Even if a debt collector stops calling, the debt is still there, and you still need to deal with it. So, if a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to get the story. See if you can resolve it – even if you don’t think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the collector is contacting you by mistake. The collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. The notice must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money.
If you don’t want the collector to contact you again, ask for the collector’s mailing address and tell them – in writing – to stop contacting you. Keep a copy of your letter for your files. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector gets your letter, they are not allowed to contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact, and the collector can be in touch to tell you that they (or the creditor) are going to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit.
Sending a letter to a debt collector you owe money to doesn’t get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.
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