Suppose you and your family find yourselves with a huge debt load; his situation can overshadow all the other financial priorities in your life, affect your quality of life, and make you miserable. You may also be getting a myriad of calls from debt collectors, who can be rude, demanding, and downright abusive.
Just know that you are not alone in this situation, as this problem is of global proportions, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even worse.
The first thing you need to know is that there are strict and enforceable Federal and state guidelines that tell debt collectors what they can and cannot do.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has put in place and enforced the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This Act is designed to make it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debts.
Many types of debt are covered by the FDCPA, such as your credit card debt, auto loans, medical bills, student loans, mortgage, and many other household debts. Business debts, however, are not covered by this act.
Debt collectors cannot, under any circumstances, contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you fully agree to it. They also can’t contact you at work if you tell them not to or that you cannot receive calls there.
Debt collectors have many means of legally contacting you by phone, sending letters, emails, or text messages to collect the debt owed.
Some more examples of things that debt collectors cannot do are:
- They can’t threaten to hurt you in any manner.
- They cannot use obscene or profane language.
- They cannot repeatedly use the phone to annoy or simply harass you.
Debt collectors cannot outright lie to you, such as:
- They cannot tell you that you owe a different amount than you do.
- They cannot pretend to be an attorney and be from any government agency.
- They cannot tell you that they’re sending someone to arrest you, or claim they’ll take legal action against you if that’s untrue.
Most people honestly want to pay their debts but can’t always do so. You need to know that in Oklahoma, you still have rights, and if those rights are breached you then have legal options. You and your professional Oklahoma debt settlement lawyer can go over all the paths you have to stop or mitigate the debt settlement process and improve your financial situation.
Does the Debt Collector Have to Disclose about My Debt?
Your legally bound debt collector has obligations under the law to disclose specific facts about the debt they attempt to collect.
A collector must give you specific validation information about your debt. They can do this either during their first phone contact with you or in writing up to five days after first contacting you. The collector must give you four specific pieces of information, these are:
- Exactly how much money you currently owe.
- The complete and specific name of the creditor you owe the money to.
- The details on how you can obtain the name of the original creditor.
- The things you can do if you don’t think that the debt is yours.
For example, if you don’t believe the debt is yours, you can follow up by sending the debt collector a letter and asking for proof and verification of the debt. Once you receive this validation information and don’t recognize or believe the debt is yours, you can respond by disputing the debt in writing.
Once the collection company receives your letter, they must stop collecting the debt until they send you additional written verification of the debt or a copy of the original bill.
Always send any correspondence to a debt collector by certified mail and request a return receipt to show that the collector received it.
You and your Oklahoma City debt collection lawyer can usually clear at least a portion of your debt using legal means such as these. Consult with your debt collection lawyer first to learn all the legal options you rightfully have.
Can An Oklahoma Debt Collector Garnish My Pay?
In most cases, the answer is yes, they can, but the collector’s firm must first sue you to get a mandated court order to do so. The “garnishment order” will state that it can take money from your paycheck to pay your debts. Also, collectors can seek a court order to take money directly from your bank account. So, it’s vital that you don’t ignore any lawsuits, or you could forever lose the chance to fight the court order, and the “garnishment” will proceed.
Some Federal benefits commonly are exempt from garnishment (except to pay delinquent taxes, alimony, child support, or student loans), they may include:
- Social Security benefits
- Supplemental Security Income benefits
- Veterans’ benefits
- Federal student aid
- Military annuities and survivors’ benefits
- Benefits from the Office of Personnel Management
- Railroad retirement benefits
- Federal emergency disaster assistance
Are There Things I Should Not Say to A Debt Collector?
Debt collectors are trained to gather as much information as they can. So, the longer you speak with them, the worse your situation may get. The more information they have, the better they are equipped to gain access to your money.
There are numerous things you should never say to a debt collector; some examples are:
- Never volunteer any information.
- Never make your bank account available to them.
- Don’t give them additional information to use against you.
- And many more!
You must remember that whether a debt collector is threatening or cajoling, they are acting as an interrogator who wants to gather information to be used against you.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to consult with an experienced Oklahoma debt collection lawyer. They will gather all the details of your case and form a working strategy that will financially work for you. Also, they will intervene, mitigate, or stop the harassment of debt collection agencies, and put some peace back in the life of you and your family.
I Am Constantly Being Called or Harassed By Debt Collectors, How Should I Proceed?
Being behind on your mortgage, and other payments, can be a highly stressful and life-altering situation. Add to that the constant calls, letters, and harassment of debt collectors, and it can become unbearable.
Remember, you have other legal options to solve this dire problem, and the debt settlement lawyers at Mitchell & Hammond have a solid, successful history of helping Oklahoma City’s families climb out of this financial quagmire. End the stress and sleepless nights and consult with them first. They will aggressively fight for you by using all the legal options available.