Preventing Further Communications from Debt Collectors, Part A
IS A VERBAL REQUEST BY THE DEBTOR / CONSUMER FOR ALL THE CALLS TO STOP ENOUGH? No. A verbal request made by the debtor to the debt collector to "stop all calling" is not enough, although it might be enough to stop the calls to the place of employment.
IS A WRITTEN REQUEST TO A DEBT COLLECTOR TO STOP ALL CALLS ENOUGH? It should be, yes. A debtor who serves a written request/demand on a debt collector to cease all telephone communications should result in a cessation of those phone calls. Unfortunately, some unethical debt collectors will not provide their name, address, or telephone number, thus making it difficult to file such written requests with them.
Preventing Further Communications from Debt Collectors, Part B
CAN A DEBTOR/CONSUMER STOP THE PHONE CALLS BUT ALLOW WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE TO BE SENT TO HIS/HER HOME? Legally, yes. A debtor can file the written demand to have all phone calls stop, but also state that written communications to the home address are permissible.
CAN A DEBTOR / CONSUMER DEMAND THAT ALL COMMUNICATIONS, WRITTEN AND VERBAL, FROM THE DEBT COLLECTOR STOP? Yes, but even with such a demand, the debt collector can: a) send written notice informing the debtor that the debt collection effort is stopping; b) send written notice informing the debtor that other legal remedies will be pursued (such as a lawsuit being filed); and c) send written notice informing the debtor that documents mailed from the debtor to the debt collector are considered "official" communications when received by the debt collector.
What Information is a Debt Collector Required to Provide to the Debtor/Consumer?
Unless it was included in the initial communication from the debt collector to the debtor, the following information must be provided in writing to the debtor, unless the debtor pays the debt within 5 days of that initial communication: a) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed; b)the amount of the debt; c) that the debtor has thirty (30) days to dispute the debt, or else the debt is assumed to be valid; d) if the debtor, in writing, disputes the validity of the debt, the debt collector will send the debtor a verification of the debt (it should be noted that, if the debtor so disputes the debt in writing, debt collection efforts must stop until written verification of the debt has been provided to the debtor); and e) notice to the debtor that, if the debtor makes a written request for the name and address of the original creditor within the first 30 days, that information will be provided by debt collector (again, such request temporarily halts debt collection efforts).
Common Unethical & Illegal Actions by Debt Collectors, Part A
o making telephone calls without properly identifying himself or herself;
o annoying, abusing, or harassing persons by calling their telephone number repeatedly or causing their telephone to ring continually;
o using obscene, profane, or other language that abuses the hearer;
o falsely representing or implying that he or she is affiliated with the Government;
o falsely representing or implying that he or she is an attorney;
o falsely representing or implying the type, amount, or legal status of the debt;
o threatening to take any action that is not legal or not actually intended to be taken;
o communicating or threatening to communicate false credit information (such as to a credit reporting agency, etc.);
o using any false or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt;
o using any false or presentation or deceptive means to collect information about a debtor.
Common Unethical & Illegal Actions by Debt Collectors, Part B
o falsely representing or implying that the debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer credit reporting agency;
o falsely representing or implying that nonpayment of the debt will result in arrest, imprisonment, garnishment of wages, seizure of property, or sale of property, unless such action is lawful and actually intended by the debt collector or creditor;
o failing to communicate that information obtained by the debt collector will be used to help collect the debt;
o failing to disclose in the initial communication that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose; and
o failing to disclose in communications, generally, that the communications are from a debt collector.
Less Common, but Still Unethical and Illegal Actions by Debt Collectors
o collecting or attempting to collect some sort of fee or charge unless it was authorized by the original debt agreement or as otherwise permitted by law;
o falsely representing or implying that the debtor committed a crime or other conduct to disgrace the him or herself;
o using written communications which appear to be authorized by or belonging to the courts, a government agency, etc., but, in fact, are not;
o advertising a debt as being for sale to force payment by the debtor;
o using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to harm debtor, the debtor's reputation, or the debtor's property;
o publishing a list of debtors who allegedly refused to pay debts; and
o using a post card to contact a debtor about a debt;