Being Treated Unfairly by Debt Collectors?

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: January 15th, 2018 |

As Ohio debt collection attorneys who usually work with companies and service providers to get past-due bills paid, the lawyers with the Jones Law Group know better than anyone that debtors have rights that debt collectors must respect. We take every safeguard to ensure no organization we represent crosses the line into harassing debtors, and we welcome this opportunity to inform Ohio residents about what they can do to exercise their legal rights.


Every Collection Effort Must Involve a Legitimate Debt

When a debt collector contacts you, you can request proof that the referenced debt exists. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act give you 30 days to make such a request in writing.

The debt collector should not contact you again until the 30-day response period expires. If documents cannot be produced to prove you owe the referenced debt, the collection effort should stop. Debt collectors are also not allowed to contact you if you have filed for bankruptcy, though you must be in contact with your actual creditors as part of the bankruptcy process.

Be aware, however, that the rights discussed here extend only to debts you allegedly owe to businesses, banks, and private individuals such as car loans, credit card bills, or personal loans. If you get contacted about a delinquent court fine, unpaid taxes, or past-due alimony and child support, you must take other actions. Speaking with an Ohio debt collection lawyer will clarify your legal options.


A Debt Collection Effort Must Start With a Notice by Mail

A debt collector cannot start by making phone calls. The first notice that a past-due bill or delinquent account exists must arrive by mail. That letter must include information on how much you allegedly owe, the identity of the company or person to whom the money is owed, how to request confirmation of the debt, and your rights as a debtor.

A second notice can come via a phone call. Throughout the entire collection effort, the debt collector must be honest and respectful. Ohio’s Attorney General lists the following things debt collectors cannot do:

  • Use false names.
  • Refuse to identify themselves.
  • Make false statements, especially regarding the amount of the alleged debt.
  • Falsely accuse you of committing a crime.
  • Threaten harm.
  • Use obscene language.
  • Call before 8 am or after 9 pm.
  • Tell your family members, neighbors, co-workers, or employer about the debt.
  • Publish your name as a debtor.


A Debtor Can Set Terms on Collection Calls

A debt collector must stop calling and sending letters if you ask them. Such requests must be sent in writing, and you can limit the kinds of contact rather than insisting that communication stop altogether. For instance, you can demand that the debt collector only send letters or only call you at home between 6 pm and 9 pm.

A legitimate debt will remain even if contact stops, but exercising the right to control when, where, and how a debt collector gets in touch can end the harassment.


Debtors Always Have the Right to Legal Representation

You are within your rights to hire an Ohio debt collection lawyer to handle responses or issue cease-and-desist letters at any time after the first contact. Your attorney can also represent you if the debt collector files a civil lawsuit against you.

When you believe that a debt collector has continued to seek payment on a debt you do not owe, violated an agreement to limit to stop contacts, or engaged in the illegal or abusive behavior, you can sue the debt collector. You have one year from the date of the last violation of debt collection laws and regulations to take legal action.

Overly aggressive and disrespectful debt collectors should also be reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.

Columbus debt collection attorneys with the Jones Law Group welcome all questions about debtors’ rights and creditors’ legal duties. You can request a confidential consultation by calling (614) 545-9998 or completing this online contact form.

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