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Are creditors limited in how they can contact debtors?

If you owe someone money, did you know there are some limitations regarding how they are allowed to contact you? The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which covers household, family and personal debts, provides such limitations.

One of the limitations of the act is that creditors can't overly inconvenience you with calls at certain times of day or to your workplace unless you agree to such calls first. Specifically, creditors are not allowed to call you in the morning before 8 a.m. or in the evening after 9 p.m. Those time restrictions are for your time zone and not your creditor's time zone.

Debt collectors also have to tell you who they are and why they are calling you. They can't call and pretend to be a different person or business to get you on the phone or get information from you. They also can't talk about your debt to anyone else that you haven't authorized, such as an attorney. Debt collectors can call other people to find out your phone number or address, though they aren't supposed to repeatedly call these people.

You, as a debtor, do have a right to request that a collector cease contact. While the collector has to stop contacting you if you ask appropriately in writing, that request doesn't stop the collection activity on any account. If you owe money and you can't pay it back, you might want to consider other options before a collector seeks a judgment and starts garnishing your wages or taking other such action. One legal option that might be appropriate is bankruptcy; a bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand whether such a choice might bring positive change to your financial situation.

Source: Federal Trade Comission, "Debt Collection," accessed April 01, 2016

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