Legal Words of Wisdom: Debt Collection

Rodney Warner, Esq
Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc.
Last Modified: January 6, 2009

Even in the best of times, a cancer patient may have bills stacking up. With the economy slowing down and unemployment worsening, unpaid bills are becoming a more common problem. Bill collectors may call, but there are legal limits as to what they should do or say. Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debtors should not be contacted before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm. The collector may not tell anyone other than the debtor, and his/her attorney, that the debtor owes them money. The collector may not use threats, use profane or obscene language, make false statements or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone. If the collector is told in writing to stop contacting the debtor, it should stop (but the debt will continue).

Learn more about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and how to report problems with debt collectors at the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

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