Your Debt Collection Rights
Debt collection is big business in the U.S. and generates more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission than any other industry. If you owe money, the creditor may hire a debt collection agency. Some debt collectors are real. Some, however, are scammers threatening Texans with debt they do not owe. Knowing how to handle debt collectors so you can assert your rights and choose the best way to manage your debt is important. If a debt collector contacts you, before saying anything or making any payments:
- Gather the facts
- Contact your attorney
- Know your rights
- Contacting you if you are represented by an attorney
- Harassing you into making payments
- Lying to you
- Harassment – Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. This includes threats of violence or harm, obscene or profane language, using the telephone to harass debtors by calling anonymously or making repeated or continuous calls.
- False statements – Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements. This includes misrepresenting the amount of your debt, using a false name or identification, misrepresenting the amount of the debt or its judicial status, sending documents to a debtor that falsely appear to be from a court or other official agency, failing to identify who holds the debt, misrepresenting the nature of the services rendered by the collection agency or the collector, falsely representing that the collector has information or something of value in order to discover information about the consumer.
- Unfair practices – Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. This includes trying to collect any amount greater than your debt, threatening arrest of the consumer, or repossession or other seizure of property without proper court proceedings, falsely accusing the consumer of fraud or other crimes, making collect telephone calls without disclosing the true name of the caller before the charges are accepted.
- They Ask for Info They Should Already Have – Real debt collectors already have your information. But debt collection scammers, may not. If the collector doesn’t seem to know enough about you, they’re probably a scammer.
- They Won’t Share Their Info with You – Whenever someone tries to collect a debt, ask for all of their company’s information, including:
- The collector’s full name
- Company name, address, phone number, website, and email
- They Threaten or Lie to You – Remember, under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act and Texas Debt Collection Act, debt collectors are prohibited from lying, harassing, and using unfair collection methods.
- They Insist You Pay Right Now – Scammers survive by getting people to pay fake debts before they have a chance to realize they’re being scammed. So if a debt collector demands you to pay immediately, be very cautious.
- They Ask You to Pay by Untraceable Methods – Scammers often insist you make a payment by Visa gift card, iTunes gift card, wire transfer—or some other untraceable method. Real debt collectors, on the other hand, will accept normal, trackable payments (e.g., check, traditional credit card, etc.).