Ins and Outs of Debt Collection and Consumer Rights

Millions of Americans are contacted by debt collectors each year.  State and federal agencies are receiving more complaints about unfair or deceptive practices than any other part of the consumer financial system. 

When Accumulation of Debt Becomes Problematic

Families with children under eighteen, those without health insurance, and those that have experienced more than two months of unemployment are more likely to hold a credit card balance.  (COVID-19 has exasperated this problem.) Once any type of debt becomes overdue, the very companies that extended credit and asked for your business will become focused on collections.  If the company is not successful in obtaining payment for past due amounts, or if a payment plan has not been established, they may hire a third-party “debt buyer agency” to collect for a percentage of the original debt value.

Wisconsin Has Consumer Rights

If a third-party debt collection agency is contacting you on behalf of a creditor, it can be helpful to know the statute of limitation that applies to your specific debts. If the statute of limitation has expired, a debt collector cannot sue to collect.  Any debtor has the right to obtain “verification” of the debt and to dispute it.  This and other laws are part of “The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.”   The FDCPA and the Wisconsin Consumer Act has protected Wisconsin consumers from abusive and harassing debt collection tactics for more than forty years. The sooner you speak to an attorney about your particular situation, the sooner the calls can stop, and the sooner you can get back to living peacefully again.

Violations Considered Debt Collector Abuse

There are many examples of debt collector abuse that are considered FDCPA violations.  For example, collectors must identify themselves and accurately identify the agency that they represent.  They cannot ask you to pay more than what is owed, threaten, or use profanity or violence.  They can’t ask for interest, fees or expenses that are not allowed by law, or call repeatedly or before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.  If any other violation of the FDCPA occurs, consumers have the right to sue the debt collector for damages.

Debt Collector Defense

Once a creditor or a debt collector begins to contact you, keep records of each call including caller name and other important details.  Save all mail and emails, and ask them not to call you at work.  If you decide at some point to sue creditors for harassment, your records will be a valuable asset.  Next, contact an attorney who is familiar with Wisconsin debt collection laws and the elimination of debt.

Seek Advice From a Debt Lawyer

Feeling that you have been harassed or deceived by a debt collector is a justifiable reason to seek the advice of an attorney.  Debt Advisors Law Offices offers a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss your experiences, financial circumstances, and options such as an “automatic stay” to stop harassment calls immediately.   Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy have helped thousands of Wisconsin Residents get back on their feet after a tough financial crisis.  The lawyers at Debt Advisors will be upfront and honest regarding whether or not the bankruptcy process is right for you.

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