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What a creditor can and cannot say to you

Getting in over your head in credit card debt is easy to do. After all, what’s $20 when it’s not coming straight from your wallet? But being delinquent on payments can mean having debt collectors calling you to make your payments. There are rules these collectors must follow, however, and not following them can land them in trouble.

Federal law, called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, dictates that collectors must use certain phrases and avoid others when calling. Any time they call, whether it’s the first or fifth time, they must first identify themselves, including the name and address of the creditor on whose behalf they are calling. They must also let you know that any information you give will be used to collect the debt.

On the first call, they must let you know that you can dispute the debt, and how to do so. If you would like, you can demand verification of the debt, which will essentially put the collection on hold until said information is provided in writing. If it is not, the debt could be absolved.

A debt collector may not harass or verbally abuse you. This includes calling outside reasonable hours, typically 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are not allowed to use profanity or threats of arrest or defamation, nor can they call excessively. Collectors can only call the home number given, and they may only talk to you about the issue. They must stop communication if requested (but this can lead to a lawsuit in order to settle the debt). Once you have filed for bankruptcy, all communication must cease.

There are other rules creditors must follow, but these cover the general basics. If you need help with creditor harassment or filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey, contacting an experienced attorney can help get you on the right track. 

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