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How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates contact

Illinois debtors who are experiencing financial trouble and are determining how to proceed might find themselves being contacted by creditors. In some instances, this contact in an attempt to collect on consumer debt might be deemed as creditor harassment. Many debtors are not aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and how it protects them from certain forms of contact. Understanding the law and the protections it affords consumers is important when trying to stop these calls and other forms of contact.

A debt collector is not allowed to contact the debtor at certain times or places. Prior to 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. are considered off limits unless the debtor has agreed to it. Debt collectors are also barred from contacting a debtor at work if they are told the debtor is not supposed to receive calls there. Contact can be made via telephone, letter, email or text in order to collect a debt provided the collectors adhere to the rules and tell the debtor why they are making contact. The debt collector cannot pretend to be someone other than who he or she is as a method of deception, to say there will be penalties, or to make a threat.

If the debt collector makes contact, the debtor could consider discussing the situation once to see if it can be settled. If it cannot or the debtor does not want to be contacted, then the debt collector can be told of this in writing by sending a letter via return receipt. Once it has been received by the collector, it is not allowed to contact the debtor except to say that there will be a specific action taken, such as a lawsuit. The debt collector is able to contact others about the debt if there is an attempt to find out the address, phone number or place of work of the debtor. They are generally only allowed to contact a third party one time. The circumstances of the debt cannot be discussed with a party other than the debtor, a spouse or a lawyer.

Simply because the FDCPA prohibits certain behaviors on the part of a debt collector does not mean that behavior will stop. Considering speaking to an attorney who is experienced in helping clients deal with credit card debt, creditor harassment and other issues related to FDCPA may be a wise decision.

Source: consumer.ftc.gov, "Debt Collection," accessed on Jan. 31, 2017

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