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Debt Collections

Student Legal Services - ASUW

When Your Creditor Comes After You

If you get behind on any credit account payments (credit cards, cell phone bills, electric bills, etc.), you may be subject to debt collection. Creditors commonly hire a collection agency to collect on delinquent accounts. Collection agencies do this by contacting the consumer, most commonly by either phone or mail, and requesting the debt be paid.

Collection agencies can be anywhere from annoying to downright nasty. To protect customers from abusive practices by creditors and collection agencies, Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It specifically forbids harassing, abusive, misleading, and generally unfair practices in the collection of a debt.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (located at 15 U.S.C. § 1692 of the Federal Code), you are entitled to have collections calls and letters stop coming. You must, however, request this in writing. State in the letter that the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires the collection agency to stop contacting" you. After it receives this letter, the collection agency must stop contacting you. However, it may still send information concerning what it intends to do in terms of recovering what you owe on the account, or let you know that your account has been closed.

Further, federal law states that collection agencies may not call you at home after 8:00 p.m. or before 9:00 a.m., or at your place of business when they know your employer does not allow those types of calls. They also cannot contact you at unusual times or places, or places or times known to be inconvenient for you. Once you have sent the letter to the collection agency, all calls must cease.

If you are represented by an attorney in a collections matter the collection agency may not contact you again once your attorney has informed it that you are represented by counsel.

This does not mean that you do not have to pay what you owe. The law was designed to prevent you from being harassed by debt collectors. Getting behind on your bills is bad for your credit. Be responsible with your credit.

For more information, see: 

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