Are you receiving calls every day about money you owe? If you’d like to stop bill collectors from contacting you, it may be time to speak to a debt settlement attorney about your case. Call Luftman, Heck & Associates today at (216) 586-6600 to find out how we can help you stop debt collectors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
If you have bills that have gone into default, chances are your original creditor will sell these debts to a third-party debt collector, who will turn around and try to collect the debt to make their money back.
These call centers are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC,) which is the federal entity committed to eliminating deceptive business practices and protecting consumers. The FTC created the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to put a stop to abusive behavior many debt collectors resort to when attempting to collect on a debt. The FDCPA created regulations debt collectors must follow. For example, a debt collector may not:
- Call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Contact you at work if you’ve informed them (orally or in writing) that they cannot call you there
- Talk about your debt with anyone beside you, your spouse, or your attorney
- Use threats, vulgar language, or other harassing tactics to get you to pay
Debt collectors must inform you of the debt they’re trying to collect within five days after they first call you. If you don’t want them to contact you anymore, you can ask them to stop in a “cease and desist” letter. It’s a good idea to send your letter via certified mail so you have a receipt showing they received it.
Reasons to Stop Bill Collectors from Contacting You
1.) You’re being harassed. Debt collectors are expressly forbidden from using intimidation, threats, or other menacing behavior to collect money, but they don’t always do as they’re told. If a collector is harassing you, either verbally or by calling multiple times a day, you should contact an attorney and see if you can file a lawsuit against the company for violating the FDCPA.
2.) The statute of limitations on your debt has expired. If your debt is beyond the statute of limitations, you can’t be sued for payment any longer. But debt collectors will try to collect a debt no matter if it’s beyond the statute of limitations or not. You need to be careful when you’re contacted about old debts – if you pay anything, even a partial payment, it’s considered a verification of the debt, which reactivates it and puts you back on the hook to pay it.
3.) The debt is not yours. Often people get calls about debts they don’t owe because their name is the same as the person with the debt, or they have a phone number that used to belong to someone else. Saying it’s not your debt will not put a debt collector off; it’s probably something they hear from lots of people. To confirm the debt is not yours, you should request verification of it. The collector is bound by the FDCPA to send you verification within 30 days after you request it; otherwise, they can no longer contact you to collect on it.
4.) You’re planning to file for bankruptcy. Filing for consumer bankruptcy may get these debts erased, so there is no need to discuss the debt with a bill collector. Your bankruptcy attorney can handle all communications instead.
How Filing for Bankruptcy Can Help
Filing for bankruptcy is a chance to get rid of financial obligations you can’t afford to pay, giving you a fresh start. If you’re receiving calls from bill collectors, bankruptcy can help you a couple of ways:
- Bankruptcy stops calls from creditors. The bankruptcy court issues an automatic stay, which is a notice that goes out to all your bill collectors that bars them from contacting you about money you owe. The automatic stay is in place until after your discharge is awarded.
- Bankruptcy eliminates the debt. Consumers who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can have their unsecure debts completely erased. Types of unsecure debt includes medical bills, credit card bills, or personal loans. If a bill collector is contacting you about an unsecure debt, bankruptcy will take care of that debt and permanently stop the phone calls. Those who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will include many of their debts in an affordable repayment plan and have them paid off in three to five years. Anything that doesn’t get added to the repayment plan might get discharged instead.
Contact a Cleveland Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney
Living “paycheck to paycheck” can be stressful enough without adding phone calls from people demanding you pay your debts. If you’d like to stop bill collectors from contacting you, call a consumer bankruptcy attorney today. The attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates are well-versed in bankruptcy laws and FDCPA regulations. They can help you understand your rights and determine the best method to bring you relief from your financial setbacks.