If you’re struggling with past due debts, then you may be getting a parade of endless collection calls. These can be threatening or humiliating and can result in excessive stress impacting nearly every aspect of your life – your health, marriage, job, etc.
Clients often just want these calls to stop.
In fact, before hiring Brine Consumer Law many of our clients have tried to take matters into their own hands without knowing the law. Some have stopped answering calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Others have screened their calls by pretending to be somebody else.
Attorney Brine even had one client hang up on him because they didn’t recognize the phone number and thought he was a debt collector!
But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
There are several ways you can easily – and legally – stop these calls, so that you don’t have to worry about missing a family emergency, and you can stop pretending to be somebody else:
- If a debt collector has just contacted you for the first time, then federal law requires that they must give you an opportunity to request proof of the debt. This is called a “Request for Validation” of the debt. Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, once a debt collector receives this request in writing they are prohibited from taking any further collection efforts – including collection calls - until they provide proof of the debt.
- Alternatively, you can request that a debt collector “cease and desist” from contacting you regarding the debt. Once a debt collector receives this request in writing they are prohibited from contacting you in any fashion to try to collect the debt. (Although they are of course still permitted to file a lawsuit and notify you of that).
- If you plan on fighting the debt in court, or potentially filing a bankruptcy case, then you could also hire an attorney. Once a debt collector knows that you are represented by an attorney, then they must direct all communications to your attorney.
- Finally, if a bankruptcy case is filed, then all collection calls must stop due to the “automatic stay.” And calls will be forever prohibited if a discharge of debt is ultimately entered in the case.
If a debt collector violates any of these laws, then they may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Massachusetts Debt Collection Practices Act, and/or the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act.
Under all of these laws, a violation would entitle you to money damages and attorney’s fees.