What are your legal rights against debt collectors?

Asked over 3 years ago - Gibsonia, PA

What are your rights, and what can you do and can't do when dealing with them through the mail or by phone and in general?

Can you make a formal request by mail in writing request the release of info on how they obtained your debt and where they came up with this number?

if you have multiple debts with 5 or more debt collectors what can you do to make one budget out for them, and by that i mean if you decided to combine them what steps can you take to achieve that?

If you start making monthly payments with a debt collector on an agreed upon payment per month and your on time and never late can they sue you if they want the money right away?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Mitchell Paul Goldstein

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . State law may apply as well. I am not a PA attorney, so I cannot advise there.

    You can file a written verification and make them prove that you owe the money, who you owed the money to, that they have a right to collect, how they determined the number and that the debt is still valid (among other things). However, you cannot force a payment plan nor can you force multiple collectors to accept a single payment to split. You can only do this through a bankruptcy.

    Keep in mind that if the debt is owed and everything else is proven, you can be sued and possibly garnished. Again state law applies to collections.

    Talk to a local attorney who can advise on the specifics of your situation.

    Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.... more
  2. Joshua P Friedman

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . All of these items are covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You can request information - called request for validation of debt. But the collectors responsibility here is very limited and only needs to provide limited information. Detailed information is only required once a law suit is filed in order to prove its claim. Multiple debts can be resolved through a legitimate and reputable debt consolidation company, using an attorney or try to work out deals yourself (not recommended). Make all payment plan and settlement deals in writing - make sure it includes clause that if you perform they will not sue, write off the balance (be careful of 1099 tax consequences), etc. Have an attorney represent you in all such negotiations.

    Disclaimer of California Attorney
    Although the above response is believed to be accurate, it should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice because the information provided is incomplete. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. No attorney client relation is formed with me without a written contract.

    Joshua P. Friedman

    Disclaimer of California Attorney Although the above response is believed to be accurate, it should not be... more
  3. Dorothy G Bunce


    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The federal law that covers debt collectors is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act & I am posting the link to that act below.

    Many states also have laws that regulate the debt collection industry, so you may wish to look at resources within your state as well. In Nevada, one of the best resources for information about state government is the State telephone operator. The ladies that work on the switchboard are familiar with all the state agencies & can transfer a call to the right place with a reassuring and helpful demeanor. I hope your state has public workers that are as pleasant & efficient as they are where I live.

    Hope this perspective helps!

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