questions and answers below are courtesy of the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC) at www.occc.state.tx.us/pages/consumer/education/DebtColl.htm.
Debt Collection Practices
OCCC frequently receives questions and complaints from consumers about
the negative debt collection practices they experience. Examples of
unlawful creditor behavior includes excessive amount of telephone calls
to debtors, misrepresentation of the facts to third parties, threats
of arrest, and illegal repossession.
you have complaints about the collection practices of an OCCC licensed
lender, please call the Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800.538.1579
or fill out a complaint
form and send it to this agency (mailing address, e-mail address,
and fax number provided on the form).
debts are covered? Personal,
family, and household debts are covered under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile,
for medical care, or for charge accounts.
is a debt collector? A
debt collector is any person who regularly attempts to collect debts
owed to themselves or others; included in this definition are attorneys
who collect debts on a regular basis. Note that fhe
federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies only to collectors
working for professional collection agencies and attorneys hired to
collect debts. Texas law addresses actions taken by anyone
trying to collect on a consumer debt.
may a debt collector contact you? A
collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or
fax. However, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times
or places, such as before or after ,
unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work
if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.
you stop a debt collector from contacting you? You
can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a certified
letter to the collector telling them to stop. Keep a copy for your records.
Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again
except to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that
the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does
not make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be
sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.
a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt? If
you have an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney,
rather than you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact
other people, but only to find out where you live, what your phone number
is, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting
such third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may
not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
must the debt collector tell you about the debt? Within
five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you
a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of
the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you
believe you do not owe the money.
a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe
collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the
written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you
do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities
if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the
types of debt collection practices are prohibited? Prohibited
behaviors include harassment, false statements, and other unfair practices.
collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties
they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:
threats of violence or harm
·publish a list of
consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)
·use obscene or profane
·repeatedly use the
telephone to annoy someone
collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting
a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
·falsely imply that
they are attorneys or government representatives
·falsely imply that
you have committed a crime
that they operate or work for a credit bureau
·misrepresent the amount
of your debt
·indicate that papers
being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
·indicate that papers
being sent to you are not legal forms when they are
collectors also may not state that:
·you will be arrested
if you do not pay your debt
·they will seize, garnish,
attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency
or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so
·actions, such as a
lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not
be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action
debt collectors may not:
·give false credit
information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau
·send you anything
that looks like an official document from a court or government agency
when it is not
·use a false name
collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect
a debt. For example, collectors may not:
·collect any amount
greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge
·deposit a post-dated
·use deception to make
you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams
·take or threaten to
take your property unless this can be done legally
The Information you obtain at this site is not intended to be legal advice.
you should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own situation.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people
file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. Not
certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization