Under federal laws, consumers are offered certain protections from the actions of those who collect delinquent debts. However, not all collection agencies follow the rules that are laid out by the Federal Trade Commission pertaining to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Some of the forbidden actions
Collection bureaus may contact you via telephone or via mail. However, they cannot share your personal information with other parties which means they are not allowed to contact your place of employment or a neighbor and share any information beyond leaving a message for you nor are they allowed to disclose your information by sending a post-card reminder of your debt. Unfortunately, too often debt collectors make repeated telephone calls even after they have been asked not to contact you wish is a violation of the law.
Understanding your options
Another way that credit collectors try to get you to pay bills is to threaten to take you to court to obtain a judgment against you. While threats are not allowable communication, the potential of taking you to court to force collection is very real. However, credit collectors do not want you to know that you are entitled to legal counsel if you are being taken to court and that if the statute of limitations on the debt has expired, they cannot legally file a lawsuit to collect the debt. However, once they file suit, you do have to take action to fight the lawsuit.
What is the statute of limitations?
Under Missouri law, creditors may not file a lawsuit to collect a debt if more than ten years if there is a written contract and in some cases, this period of time may be reduced to five years. However, it is important to understand that in some cases, creditors will attempt to trick debtors into restarting the clock on these debts. The statute of limitations begins on the day of the last payment or purchase activity was made on the account in question.
Any consumer who receives contact from any collection bureau on a debt they are seeking to get payment on should first speak with a debt collection attorney. Oftentimes, primary creditors sell off uncollected debts first to collection agencies and if those agencies are unable to collect on the debt, they often resell that debt. This means that in some cases, there is a lost paper trail and by law, the creditor must be able to prove that you actually owe the debt which means producing the original contract.
None of us wants to avoid paying debts we legally owe but in some cases, we have neglected debts because of illness, lack of employment or because of a divorce. If you feel that you are being harassed by a creditor or you are facing threats of wage garnishment, bank account garnishment or potential legal action, contact the Law Office of Stacey L. Meinen at (314)265-8417 for assistance.