If you have ever fallen behind on your debts you already know that dealing with your creditors can be a hassle. Sometimes it can be downright humiliating. It doesn’t have to be that way.
With millions of people experiencing financial problems it is absolutely necessary for everyone to know and understand their rights as a consumer.
Federal law requires that you receive fair and equal treatment from businesses issuing credit. This law applies when they evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and even leases.
The one area where I receive the most complaints are from individuals that are being harassed by debt collectors. These complaints range from debt collectors contacting their work and family members to being called names. All of these are a direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This article spells out exactly what your rights are as a consumer.
I have copied some areas of this article directly from the Federal Trade Commission’s web site to ensure that the information is explained exactly as the law applies. These areas are identified.
The FDCPA lists the following guidelines that must be followed by all debt collectors:
(Copied from the Federal Trade Commission web site)
- Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves.
- Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you.
- Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime.
- Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone.
- Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to in writing.
It also prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices while collecting these debts.
It is very important to keep a record of any contact you make with your creditors especially when there is a dispute or misunderstanding regarding your account. You should list the name and address of the company, date and time of the call, the name of the person you spoke with and the content of the call. I have developed a form that can be used for this purpose.
Another important aspect of your consumer rights is Credit Reporting. Derogatory information in your Credit Report can have serious consequences. It is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that the information in your credit report is accurate and up to date.
There are numerous companies that offer “Free Credit Reports”, however, you are obligated to sign up for their “Debt Monitoring Service” which usually costs about $80. You will receive a free credit report and if you cancel your monitoring service within 30 days it will cost you nothing. Your best bet is to order your credit report directly from a Credit Reporting Agency. It will only cost you about $9. Below is a list of the three main companies:
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 03074-0241
PO Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
(888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
I would advise you to visit this link to find out exactly how to obtain your credit report:
Having knowledge of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)can save you a lot of time and trouble when you apply for credit. The following explains these rights.
(Copied from the Federal Trade Commission web site)
Your Credit Report Your credit payment history is recorded in a file or report. These files or reports are maintained and sold by “consumer reporting agencies” (CRAs). One type of CRA is commonly known as a credit bureau. You have a credit record on file at a credit bureau if you have ever applied for a credit or charge account, a personal loan, insurance, or a job. Your credit record contains information about your income, debts, and credit payment history. It also indicates whether you have been sued, arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to help ensure that CRAs furnish correct and complete information to businesses to use when evaluating your application.
Your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
- You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all of the information in your file at the time of your request.
- You have the right to know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the lastyear for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes.
- Any company that denies your application must supply the name and address of the CRA they contacted, provided the denial was based on information given by the CRA.
- You have the right to a free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by the CRA. Your request must be made within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.
- If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your report, you should file a dispute with the CRA and with the company that furnished the information to the CRA. Both the CRA and the furnisher of information are legally obligated to reinvestigate your dispute.
- You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.
If you believe that your rights have been violated under one of these laws you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online.
While these laws won’t eliminate your obligation to pay your just debts they can prevent debt collectors and others from taking advantage of you.