Debt Collection Information

Who is a debt collector?
A debt collector is any person, other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. Under a 1986 amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.

How may a debt collector contact the consumer?
A collector may contact the consumer in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. However, a debt collector may not contact the consumer at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (the consumers time zone) unless the consumer agrees. A debt collector also may not contact the consumer at work if the collector knows that the consumer's employer disapproves.

Can the consumer stop a debt collector from contacting her?
A Consumer may stop a collector from contacting her by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives the consumer's letter, they may not contact the consumer again except to say there will be no further contact. Another exception is that the agency may notify the consumer if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.

May a debt collector contact any person other than the consumer concerning your debt?
If the consumer has an attorney, the debt collector may not contact anyone other than the consumer's attorney. If the consumer does not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where the consumer lives and works. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector is not permitted to tell anyone other than the consumer and the consumer's attorney that the consumer owes money.

What is the debt collector required to tell the consumer about the debt?
Within five days after the consumer is first contacted, the collector must send the consumer a written notice telling the consumer the amount of money she owes, the name of the creditor to whom the consumer owes the money, and what action to take if the consumer believes she does not owe the money.

May a debt collector continue to contact the consumer if the consumer believes she does not owe money?
A collector may not contact the consumer if, within 30 days after the consumer is first contacted, the consumer sends the collection agency a letter stating the consumer does not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if the consumer is sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.

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