Frequently Asked Questions About Debt Collection

Please Note

 

 

Nothing on this web site should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of our attorneys. The information here is general in nature and should not be viewed as applying to your specific circumstances. Only a qualified consumer rights attorney can advise you about your specific situation. Hyde & Swigart are California consumer rights attorneys. State laws, and the interpretation and rulings on federal laws, are different in each jurisdiction. If you feel you need consumer rights legal advice, contact Hyde & Swigart at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.


 

 

If I decide I need to talk to a lawyer, what does it cost for me to talk with Hyde & Swigart?

If you are concerned that talking with Hyde & Swigart is going to cost you money, stop worrying, it won't. If you think that bringing a lawsuit will cost you a lot of money, you are wrong. All you need is a good case and attorneys that want to help you. For more information, click here.

Are all debts covered by the FDCPA?

No. Only the collection of consumer debts are regulated by the FDCPA. The FDCPA defines a consumer debt as "any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment." Notably, business debts are not covered by the FDCPA. See the FDCPA.

Who is a "debt collector" under the FDCPA?

This is a difficult question to answer and it is the subject of much case law. You should not try to make this determination yourself. However, generally speaking, a debt collector is any person who uses the mail, internet or the telephone in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of debts. In other words, a person in the business of debt collecting. It also covers those who regularly collect or attempt to collect debts owed to someone other than themselves.

If a person is the original creditor, that person is not normally a debt collector under the FDCPA (however, the state law does cover that person). If the original creditor sells or assigns the debt to another after the debt is not being paid by you, the person who takes over the debt is not the original creditor and is a debt collector under the FDCPA.

Keep in mind there are many exceptions to this. For example, the term includes any creditor who is trying to collecting his own debt and uses a different name which indicates that a third person is collecting. It can include repossessors, lawyers and law firms, home owners associations, landlords, those collecting on student loans, etc.

How can I stop abusive debt collectors from harassing me?

Many ways. Believe it or not, the law favors you. However, you need to be familiar with the law and your rights. Reading this web site is a great start. Talking with our firm is even better.

 

How does California's RFDCPA differ from the Federal FDCPA?

This is a rather complex issue that cannot be fully explained here. However, the three primary ways are (1) the RFDCPA includes creditors as debt collectors, and (2) the RFDCPA includes the collection of property, so repossession employees are included, and finally, (3) the RFDCPA has its own notice requirements in addition to the the federal requirements. It is noteworthy that the RFDCPA includes in its violations all of the acts that are violations of the FDCPA with a couple of minor exceptions. See the RFDCPA.

 

 

Should I request validation of the debt?

Yes. If you do not request validation of a consumer debt within thirty days of receiving first written notice from a debt collector, that right is lost, forever. If you discover, later, that the debt is questionable, the amount demanded is in error, the interest charged is questionable, and you failed to request validation, your validation rights under 15 U.S.C. 1692g are gone.

 

Do I have to talk to debt collectors or creditors if I owe the money?

No. You have a legal right to discontinue all communications with debt collectors. You only need to write to the debt collector and tell the debt collector that you refuse to pay the debt. That is it. Don't get fancy and quote a lot of law. Don't explain why you can't pay - they don't care. If you write to a debt collector or creditor and tell them that you refuse to pay the debt, they must stop. They can't call, e-mail, write you a letter, send someone to your home, send you a telegram, use smoke signals - nothing.

Another way to get the exact same result is to write to the debt collector and tell them that you wish them to stop communicating with you. If you want to double up on them, combine both methods. Write them a letter and say, "I refuse to pay this debt. Stop contacting me."

 

Can I dispute the debt, tell them to stop contacting me, etc., by phone rather than in writing?

No! This is where most people have problems. Do it in writing. And include in the letter the account number, your name and address, etc. You want to avoid giving them the excuse that they did not know who your were. And keep a copy of the letters you send.

 

Is it required that I send the letters certified mail or return receipt requested?

No. However, you should, if possible.

 

Can a debt collector call me at work?

Yes, unless you tell them that it is inconvenient for you to have calls at work, or if you explain to them that your company does not allow you to receive these types of calls at work. Unlike most communications with debt collectors and creditors, you can tell them this by phone.

 

Can a debt collector call me at work?

Yes, unless you tell them that it is inconvenient for you to have calls at work, or if you explain to them that your company does not allow you to receive these types of calls at work. Unlike most communications with debt collectors and creditors, you can tell them this by phone.

 

Can a debt collector talk to my friends, co-workers, neighbors, parents, etc., about my debt?

No. And they can not have them "give you a message," either. Even if you put someone down as a "contact," they can not contact them and discuss your debt with that person.

 

Can a debt collector talk about my debt to my friends, co-workers, neighbors, parents, etc.?

No. And they can not have them "give you a message," either. Even if you put someone down as a "contact," they can not contact them and discuss your debt with that person.