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   In Collections? Empower Yourself by Knowing the Rules
There are definite rules and regulations regarding the handling of collection accounts by creditors and by the collection agencies themselves. The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act guarantees you specific rights as a consumer when a personal debt has been turned over to a debt collector. These include:

  • The right to stop them from contacting you except to notify you of specific actions being taken by writing them a letter requesting this.
  • The right to receive a full written notice explaining the amount you owe, to whom you owe it, and what action you should take if you believe you do not owe the money.
  • The right to sue in state or federal court if you believe that the debt collector has violated the law in its handling of your account (within one year from the date that you believe the violation occurred).

If you have had an ongoing problem with a collection agency, you should probably contact the agency one more time to request a specific, written statement of their proof that you still owe on the debt. Insist that they also include instructions for disputing their statement if you do not believe you still owe the money, as the law requires.

You might also consider reporting the collection agency to your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Many states have their own debt collection laws in addition to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and your Attorney General's office can help you understand your specific rights.

For more information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, visit the FTC's web page summarizing the law at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.htm.

Copyright 2000, CreditMatters.com

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