Debt collectors are third-party companies who are hired by another company to collect a debt, or a company who purchased your debt from another company and is now trying to collect on it. These companies sometimes use questionable or deceptive techniques in trying to convince you to pay the debt they say you owe. Sometimes these tactics are illegal under Federal and/or state law. You need to be armed to protect your rights.
There are laws in place that can protect you from debt collectors. All of us are covered under Federal law by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA allows you to sue a debt collector for actual and statutory damages if they violated the law. The law also can force the debt collector to pay your attorney’s fees. South Carolina has its own version of the FDCPA in the Consumer Protection Code which prohibits similar acts as does the FDCPA but is specific for our state.
Acts that debt collectors may not do, through phone, e-mail, or U.S. mail, include:
- Use obscene or profane language.
- Continue collection efforts after sending a letter to stop, or a letter telling them you’re represented by an attorney.
- Threaten to use violence against you.
- Threaten criminal prosecution against you.
- Communicate with you at unusual hours or too many times in a twenty four hour period.
- Communicate with you when they know you are represented by an attorney.
- Contact you at your place of work after writing that they should not contact you there.
- Communicate with anyone other than you, your attorney, or credit reporting agencies about the debt.
- Communicate with you about the debt through a postcard.
- Misrepresent the amount of the debt.
- Fail to disclose that they are a debt collector or misrepresent they work for a credit agency.
- Misrepresent the character or legal status of the debt.
- Threaten or initiate a lawsuit over a time-barred debt.
Any written communication with the debt collector should be sent by Certified Mail with a Return Receipt. If they continue communications, document every call received and with whom you spoke. Accurate records are important for any lawsuit you may be able to bring.
If you are unsure of any debt after being notified by a debt collector, you have the right to dispute the debt and you should do so immediately. Our office is prepared to assist you in stopping improper debt collections. Contact us today and our staff will be happy to review your case to determine if we can help.