When you owe a debt to a creditor, that creditor has certain rights when it comes to collecting. However, those rights are not as far-reaching as some creditors would choose to believe. In fact, many creditors overstep their legal rights, resulting in harassment and unfair collection techniques. This is why the federal government stepped in and implemented the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This law spells out what creditors can and can't do, and its goal is to protect indebted consumers.
One thing that creditors are cannot do under this law is make false or misleading representations in an attempt to collect a debt. For example, it is illegal for creditors to claim that the owed debt is affiliated with or backed by the U.S. or any state government. Also, a creditor cannot lie or misrepresent the amount of debt owed or the legal status of that debt. Creditors are also disallowed from threatening a debtor with wage garnishment, property seizure, or jail unless such actions are available under the law and the creditor actually intends on pursuing those actions.
Creditors who are trying to collect debts may make all sorts of claims. They might imply that they are attorneys, or fail to even notify debtors that they are debt collectors. Furthermore, they may try to make a debtor think that they are affiliated with the government. These acts are all illegal.
Texans who believe they are being treated unfairly by their creditors should consider speaking with an experienced attorney to discover how best to protect themselves. While an attorney may be able to help stop creditor harassment, he or she may also be able to discuss debt relief options that provide a long-term solution.
Source: Fair Trade Commission, "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," accessed on April 23, 2017