Can a Debt Collector Knock at My Door?
It is an image out of a silent film, the debt collector as villain with his handlebar mustache and black fedora, standing in the doorway threatening a poor widow holding a baby in her arms and her seven weeping barefoot orphans surrounding her. However, this iconic portrayal falls far short of reality. Although a debt collector can knock at your door, they cannot threaten you, menace you, or make your children cry. The FDCPA protects you from harassment and abuse.
It is within the realm of possibility that a debt collector could come to your house, especially if they are a small, locally owned operation. However, debt collection is big business. They employ a variety of techniques to reach as many people as quickly as they can, such as autodialers. We have all received phone calls where it took a second or two for a live person to come on the line after, and that’s what an autodialer is. It is capable of dialing many phone numbers quickly, and then when a connection is made, it transfers the call to one of their waiting operators. Most collection agencies would rather use these techniques to reach consumers than physically sending operatives to their home address, which is time consuming and not cost effective.
However, it is important to know your rights in the event a debt collector does come and knock on your door.
What Can a Debt Collector at My Door Do?
They can discuss your debt with you, including setting up a payment plan.
What Can’t a Debt Collector at My Door Do?
They cannot threaten you, use profanity, racial slurs, attempt to enter your home, reveal information about your debt to anyone besides you (or your spouse, in some states) or come calling at unusual times of the day or night. They may only come calling between the hours of 8:00 AM and 9PM.
What Should I Do if a Debt Collector Is at My Door?
First of all, the chance of this happening is small. As previously stated, collection agencies are unwilling to sacrifice the time and manpower needed to make home visits. However, if it should happen, know your rights.
- You Do Not Have To Identify Yourself. It does not matter if you are the person they are looking for, you are not obligated to tell them who you are. They are not law enforcement.
- You Do Not Have To Discuss The Debt. You are well within your rights to tell the debt collector you do not wish to discuss the debt in person and to call or email you instead.
- You Do Not Have To Let A Debt Collector Into Your House. No worries if your house is a mess or you’re out of tea, you do not have to let a debt collector inside your house. Even if they ask.
- You Can Tell The Debt Collector To Leave. You can tell them they are not welcome on your property and to please leave immediately.
A debt collector must respect your wishes if you ask them not to come to your house. If they return, they may have violated the FDCPA and it is time to find a consumer attorney intent on protecting your rights.
Your home is your castle, and it is up to you to decide who can cross the threshold. If a debt collector is bothering you at home, do not wait.