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The debt collector can either provide that verification and can resume collection or if the debt collector cannot provide that verification, the debt collector must cease collection on that account." ACA has adopted a code of ethics governing how its members should conduct themselves.Andersen notes that asserting their rights under the fair debt collection law does not absolve consumers of the obligation to pay their debts if they truly owe the money.The basic provisions of the law include: • The right of consumers to sue debt collectors individually or in class actions for violations of the law.• Protection against harassment, including excessive phone calls, abusive language and threats of violence, harm or arrest.The debt collector must tell the debtor: 1) the amount of the debt, 2) the name of the creditor, 3) the fact that unless the consumer disputes the validity of the debt within 30 days, the debt will be considered valid, and 4) that the consumer can ask for verification of the debt.According to the law, this information can be given over the phone or must be sent to consumers in writing within five days of the first telephone contact."I strongly suggest that they realize that they owe.They need to address those debts and they need to work with debt collectors to work out a reasonable payment plan." Stop the calls If collectors are calling incessantly, calling workplaces when they know it is not allowed by employers, jeopardizing a consumer's job or harassing debtors' friends or neighbors, a cease communication letter can be sent.
• Banning contact with consumers at inconvenient times, such as before 8 a.m. • Allowing consumers to seek proof that they, in fact, actually owe the money the debt collector wants.
If consumers are represented in the debt collection case by an attorney, the law states collectors must communicate directly with the attorney rather than the debtor, unless the attorney fails to respond to the debt collector in a reasonable time period.
Harassment and abuse Using or threatening to use violence or other criminal actions to harm consumers, their property or their reputation are illegal under the fair debt collections law.
Experts say consumers should face the facts and deal with debt collectors, but also know and understand their rights and protections.
Can a debt collector call you repeatedly at work if your boss doesn't allow it? An educated consumer is a better consumer," says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nationwide group of nonprofit credit counseling agencies.