Debt collectors are persistent when it comes to collecting upon a debt. Most communication with them will be either written or over the phone, but sometimes, they even get the nerve to personally come to the debtor’s home to attempt to collect on the debt.
What does the debtor do if this happens? What are the debtor’s rights? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Do Not Disclose Your Identity
If a debt collector comes to the door, the first recommendation is for the debtor to not disclose his or her identity. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are required to not talk about the debt to anyone else other than the debtor.
Odds are they have no idea what the debtor actually looks like, so they will have no reason to know if the debtor is the person who opens the door. It is for this reason that the debt collector will need to proceed with caution when communicating with whoever answers the door.
They will likely ask the identity of the person answering the door, but keep in mind that the debt collector has no right to this information. It is recommended that the debtor first ask who the individual is and why he or she is coming to the house.
If the debt collector refuses to answer this information, do not disclose anything further. Ask the person to leave the property unless he or she is willing to provide this information.
Send a Cease and Desist Letter
Once the debt collector leaves the debtor’s property, it is recommended that a cease and desist letter be sent. Inform the debt collector that the debtor is aware that someone from their company attempted to collect on the debt by coming to the debtor’s home and that this line of communication in-person needs to not occur again.
If they continue to violate this request, this will be submitted as evidence of the FDCPA violation if a claim is pursued. The only way that the debtor should be communicating with a third-party debt collector is through written communication, so this request should be further made in the cease and desist letter.
The Debt Collector Cannot Take Property
If the debt collector comes to the debtor’s home, they may try to argue that they are there to take the property tied to the debt, if any. It is important that debtors are aware that the debt collectors have no legal right or power to take any property as payment of the debt owed.
If the property is being taken in a legitimate repossession, they do have a right, but if they try to argue that taking a piece of property not tied to the debt clears the debt, that statement is unequivocally false.
Making Threats – Call the Police
The FDCPA expressly prohibits using obscene or threatening language when a debt collector is speaking with a debtor while trying to collect on a debt. If the debtor is facing a debt collector personally on his or her property, and this person is making threats to the point where the debtor feels intimidated, it is recommended that the police be called.
Emotions can run high when it comes to debt collections, and communications can quickly escalate into something more. If the police are needed to personally escort the debt collector off of the property, the debtor is well within his or her rights to request this.
Further, the debtor is within his or her rights to contact the police if the debt collector is sharing information regarding the debt or debtor to neighbors or others in the neighborhood.
For instance, if the debt collector is going door-to-door, knocking on doors to inform neighbors that they are looking for the debtor, the debtor is within his or her rights to stop this from happening.
The debt collector cannot also post flyers up in the neighborhood informing neighbors about the debt owed. If this activity happens, the debtor can report this behavior, as well.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you find yourself dealing in the middle of stressful debt collection proceedings and you have questions about what to expect, it is recommended you talk to an experienced attorney. An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed.
Contact an attorney experienced in fair debt collections proceedings to schedule a consultation today.