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¡No Se Deje!
History has shown us that when the economy of this country is bad, creditors and their collection agencies become very aggressive. When their income drops from normal business activities, they try to make it up by going after past customers that still owe them money. Many desperate business owners hire collection agencies to help them make the debtors pay. Because collection agencies are usually paid a percentage of the amounts they collect, collection agents have a strong incentive to do whatever they can to increase collection amounts. After years of documenting extremely abusive and unfair collection tactics and methods, the federal government and all states enacted laws to protect “Consumer Debtors.” Consumer Debtors are defined as a natural person (not a business) who owes money for property, services or money on credit for personal, family or household purposes.
THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION LAWS PROVIDE THAT:
Collection agents must truthfully inform the debtor during the first contact that the purpose of the call or letter is to collect money and must identify themselves and the creditor and collection agency they work for. Debtors must be told that they have the right to dispute the claimed debt and to receive written verification that the debt is owed. Debtors have the right to stop collection agents from contacting them or to limit the days, times, and places where they will allow contact. If the first contact was a telephone call, the collection agency must provide a written verification within 5 days which includes the basis for the claimed debt and the amount owed. If this is done, the debtor must respond in writing within 30 days or the collection agency will assume that the money is owed. A letter from the debtor that states “I dispute the debt” is sufficient.
If the person disputes the debt, or the collection agency determines that he/she does not owe the claimed debt, the collection agency must inform the credit bureaus. Creditors cannot misrepresent themselves to be employees of a court, of the government, or of a credit reporting bureau. And creditors and collection agencies cannot threaten to sue or report debtors to a credit reporting bureau unless they truly intend to do so. It is illegal to use or threaten to use physical force, or to have the debtor arrested. It is illegal to defame debtors and to use profanity or to harass them. Harassment includes rude, nasty or abusive actions and statements. And it is illegal to threaten to have debtors deported if they do not pay.
Debtors have the right to sue creditors and collection agencies that violate these laws. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in these types of cases is one year. Debtors who prove their cases can get money damages, civil penalties up to $1000 dollars and have their attorneys fees paid. Collection agencies are prohibited from contacting debtors that have attorneys. Do not provide information to debt collectors. Insist that they provide information to you. Do not be intimidated by them. You have many rights. Use them with confidence. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
Jess J. Araujo, Esq.