While many people in South Carolina struggle with credit card debt, some may not know that the federal government regulates debt collection practices. In fact, many of the intrusive behaviors that many people associate with debt collectors are actually prohibited by law.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was established by the Federal Trade Commission to create guidelines and rules that debt collectors must follow. This act explains what debt collectors can and cannot do in the process of collecting money that is due. It also details the rights of people who hold outstanding debts. The act applies to all kinds of personal debts, including credit card debt, car loans, mortgages and debts from medical expenses.
The FDCPA states that collectors may not call people at unreasonable hours, such as before 8 a.m. They are also not allowed to call people at work if they are told not to, whether verbally or in writing. If a debt collector's calls are becoming a problem, a person is allowed to request that they immediately end contact by sending a letter to the collector.
Collectors are expressly forbidden from using threats, profanity, false information or threats of arrest, and they are not allowed to make repeated, unnecessary phone calls. There is a process to paying off credit card debt, and debt collector harassment is typically not tolerated.
If a debt collector uses harassment or other illegal practices in an attempt to collect money, anyone being harassed may contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the state district attorney or the FTC to report the illegal behavior. After being notified, one or more of these agencies may be able to take steps to get the harassment or other activities to stop. An attorney experienced in bankruptcy might also be able to help.
Source: Federal Trade Commission , "Debt Collection ", November 20, 2014