Everyone has heard the horror stories about debt collection agencies. Obviously, most of these companies were breaking the law with whatever they were doing to collect on monies owed. A lot of people don’t know what these collectors can legally do and what they can’t, which is a big problem. Such a lack of knowledge means that millions of individuals can fall victim to shady and even illegal tactics used by debt collectors. With that in mind, here are five things that collection agencies can’t legally do.
1. Seize any assets without a lawsuit judgment.
It isn’t easy for a company to seize your assets without a lawsuit, but it is possible through a few different avenues – all illegal ones. Without a judgment, a debt collector cannot seize any of your bank accounts, property holdings, or paychecks. You shouldn’t be fooled into handing these things over without a court hearing either. Until a judge says so, you don’t legally owe a company anything. Well, you do, but you don’t have to pay until that point.
2. Get a person fired from his or her job.
Collectors are allowed to call a person’s workplace but cannot talk about a person’s debts to anyone. Nevertheless, some callers will attempt to talk about the debts and even try to get a person fired from his or her job. Such a move is completely illegal in many different ways, but agencies do try it from time to time. You should report an agency to the Federal Trade Commission promptly in such a situation.
3. Use violence or intimidation against a debtor.
Obviously, physical and verbal threats are against the law in plenty of other cases. A collection agency can’t threaten you in any way or it is breaking the law. Even veiled threats are a no-no for debt collectors. First of all, you shouldn’t have to take any form of harassment from these companies. You should report any violence or threat to the local authorities, file a complain with the FTC, and consider bringing forth your own lawsuit against the company.
4. Disclose any information about a debt to anyone but the credit bureaus.
Collection agencies can contact the credit bureaus about your debts, which will be noted on your credit report for seven years and is difficult – if not impossible – to get removed. On the other hand, an agency cannot talk to anyone else about your debts or even mention them. These companies can ask your friends and family members about your contact information, but they are breaking the law the second they speak about a debt of any sort in your name.
5. Communicate with a debtor after a cease communication letter.
By law, a debtor can send a collection agency a “cease communication” letter. A debt collector is then legally barred from contacting a person by telephone and sometimes by mail except under certain circumstances. For instance, a collector could contact a person to inform them of any pending lawsuits or something like that. Otherwise, the debtor shouldn’t receive any communications. A collector is violating the law if you receive any calls that aren’t permitted by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Don’t be fooled – the law is very clear on what collectors can and can’t do.
There isn’t much of a gray area when it comes to debt collection agencies and what they can do with debtors. In that vein, you shouldn’t fall for any of their shady or even illegal tactics. If you feel harassed, then the company is probably breaking a law in some manner. Fortunately, most collectors are law abiding businesses that are just trying to collect on debts, but you should still be on the lookout for those agencies that are blatantly violating the law in some manner. Don’t become a victim!
For more information, visit Collection Agency FAQ.