How to stop creditors and debt collectors from calling you.
Collection agencies want you to believe that they, and not you, are holding all the cards. They want you to believe that you MUST talk to them, and MUST accept what they say you owe. This is not true! You are protected by Federal and State law and NYC Regulations. While the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act only applies to debt collectors, and not the creditor, NYS law applies to both the creditor and the debt collector. The following is a list of what you may do when you receive a call or letter from a creditor or debt collector:
- If you receive a call from a creditor or debt collector, first make sure that they clearly tell you their name, the name of their company, their consumer affairs license number and their address before you have any conversation with them. If they try to cut you off or ask you questions before giving you this information, tell them that you will not speak to them until you are given that information. If they do not give you that information tell them not to call you again and hang up.
- If it is the first call from a creditor or collection agency and they have not yet mailed you anything, insist that they mail you a notice BEFORE you speak with them.
- NEVER give out your social security number, date of birth, work or cell phone number, names of persons in your home, names of family members, neighbors or friends, credit card information, checking or other banking information over the phone to a creditor or debt collector.
- Always send a Demand for Verification the first time you receive a call AND the first time you receive a letter from a debt collector. This letter should be sent by Certified Mail so you can later prove it was received. This letter also demands that they not call you anywhere. Creditors and collection agencies can sometimes be aggressive and may often break the laws that protect you from them. If this letter is sent within 30 days of you receiving a letter from a creditor or debt collector, they can not take any further action against you, including calling you, until they have verified the debt. This may seem like an easy thing for them to do, but quite often it is not. The nature of the collection industry is that collection agencies may buy blocks of debt without knowing if the debt is good or not.
- Keep a notebook of all calls and letter that you receive from (and send to) the creditor and collection agencies. You may be able to sue the creditor and/or collection agency for up to $1,000.00 for EACH violation of the laws. If you receive ANY phone call from the collection agency after sending the above letter, they may be held in violation of the Federal Debt Collections Practices Act. You can sue them in small claims court, civil court or supreme court depending on how many violations or you can readily find attorneys willing to take these suits against debt collectors.
- If the debt collector does send you written verification of the bill, make sure that it is from the creditor and not just the debt collector. Also insist that they send the additional information that you have requested.
- You can try to work out a payment arrangement with the creditor or debt collection agency if you choose. Again this is best done in writing rather than over the phone. If you do not wish to try to work out a payment or a chat with the debt collection agency you can send them a final do not contact me a letter which will end all communication except for the one additional contact to tell you what they can or will do.
If you are served with a lawsuit by the creditor or debt collector, you must serve an Answer within 20-30 days.
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