||Ask Dr. Don
What do you do when a bill collector calls you
at work? They first tell you the amount of the debt, then tell you
that on today it can be reduced to 80 percent of the bill, instead
of $1,900 down to $1,500.
You tell them no, you can't pay that amount so then
you tell them you can pay $100 a month. They say OK, but can you
do a check by phone. You tell them no, so they say OK we know where
you work and they then plan to garnish your wages. How do you handle
Debt Collection Practices Act places limitations on how debt
collection agencies can communicate with you. They aren't allowed
to call you at home before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and they can't
call you at work if they know that your employer bans this type
of call. Obscene, profane, or abusive phone calls are also prohibited.
You can notify a debt collector in writing that you
want them to cease further communication with you concerning a debt,
and upon receipt of that notice the debt collector can only contact
- Advise the consumer that the debt collector's further
efforts are being terminated;
- Notify the consumer that the debt collector or
creditor may invoke specified remedies that are ordinarily invoked
by such debt collector or creditor; or
- Where applicable, to notify the consumer that the
debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.
You can cease communication by this process regardless
of whether you owe the debt. Make sure your letter includes your
name and address, the date, the collection agency's account number
(if available), a statement that you are exercising your rights
under the FDCPA, and a statement that you want the collection agency
to stop calling or writing you.
Send the letter certified mail, signature receipt
requested, and keep a copy of the letter and the signature receipt
for your files. You should note that the original creditor's rights
in contacting you differ from the collection agency's rights.
Debt collectors aren't allowed to state that they
will seize, garnish, attach or sell your property or wages unless
the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal
for them to do so. Some states prohibit garnishment for the collection
of most debts.
They also can't threaten you with legal action that
they can't take or don't intend to take.
Alternately you could contact your state's consumer
-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2001