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Debt Collection and Your Rights

Debt collectors can be ruthless. Constant telephone calls at home and work, embarrassing letters in brightly colored envelopes, calls to friends and family, and even public posts to your Facebook account are all tactics that debt collectors use to harass you into paying. Fortunately, there are laws that protect you when creditors get too aggressive.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is a federal law that protects against abusive collection practices by third party collectors. Third party collectors include collection agencies and collection attorneys. The FDCPA does not apply to business debts or to original creditors. The FDCPA prohibits certain practices including:

* Telephone calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (your time)

* Requesting payment beyond what is actually owed

* Using abusive, profane, or obscene language

* Threatening legal action which is not permitted by law (for example, criminal charges)

* Telephone calls at work after being instructed that your employer prohibits phone calls from debt collectors

* Contacting you directly after being instructed that you are represented by a lawyer

Another federal law is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer credit reports. The FCRA contains a dispute process for correcting inaccurate information placed on your credit report. More information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act can be found on the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection website. The FTC is charged with enforcement of both acts.

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney provides instant relief from creditor harassment under the FDCPA, and all collection action must stop the moment you file a bankruptcy. This protection lasts the duration of your bankruptcy and is replaced with the bankruptcy discharge at the end of your case. A creditor who violates these bankruptcy prohibitions can face a contempt of court charge in bankruptcy court.

Don't let creditor harassment bog you down. Take control by consulting with one of the experienced attorneys at Miller and Miller about your debt and learn how the federal and state laws can protect your property, your income, and your peace of mind.

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