In these particularly tough economic times, it can be pretty easy to fall behind on paying off bills you might owe. Sometimes, we might even find ourselves the subject of a phone call or letter from a debt collection agency. The problem arises when we run abreast of a debt collection agency that might not be operating on the up and up or might be using techniques that are meant to scare us into paying off our debt quickly.
The United States has a ton of laws on the books that are geared toward making sure that when a debt collection agency does contact us they are fully complying with the basic tenets of basic fairness.
If a debt collector does contact you the Better Business Bureau wants you to know that there are a couple of rules that agency must follow. The first is that while the company can contact you by phone, mail, in person or by fax they must do so between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM. This rule is in place so that collectors cannot harass you early in the morning or late at night, if you do receive a call outside of these hours you should contact authorities.
The agency must also stop contacting you if you send them a letter stating that you do not owe the money they claim you owe inside of 30 days after they have first contacted you. The Better Business Bureau wants you to make sure and take care of this; especially if you truly believe that you do not have any outstanding debts. Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies who have actually told people they owe money they do not, and then basically extort their victims into paying huge sums in order to get the agency to leave them alone.
Should you believe you are being harassed and that the collection agency is not acting in good faith you should contact your state Attorney General’s office. In the past year, there have been many cases where people have fought back and won against debt collection agencies that were engaging in illegal practices. Don’t feel like you have to give in just because you got that initial phone call or letter, especially if you don’t actually owe the money.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman