Several consumers have complaints about debt collectors and the negative experiences they have gone through. Examples of unlawful behavior by a creditor include misrepresentation of facts to an outside third party, arrest threats, repossession through illegal means, and excessive phone calls. If the creditor is part of the OCCC network you may call 800-538-1579 to file a complaint, or fill out the complaint form which will have the mailing address providing on the form, as well as a fax number. Debt collection practices in Texas have to follow both state and federal regulations, giving the debtor certain rights. The Texas Attorney General accepts complaints from third party creditors who are not involved with the OCCC. They can be reached at 800-621-0508. Although filing a complaint does not erase your debt it does prevent you from being unlawful swindled by creditors.
Debts that are covered
The debt collection practices in Texas have to follow a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This required that the debt collectors calling have to treat you fairly. Under this law debts such as personal, household, and family are protected. This also includes debts owed for charge accounts, medical bills, and the purchase of an automobile.
Who collects debt?
By definition a debt collector is a person who contacts the debtor regularly to get payments for debts owed. Debt collection practices in Texas and the Fair Debt Act only include attorneys and professional collectors.
How can collectors make contact?
There are several ways a debt collector may try to reach you. These include, phone calls, mail, telegram, fax, or in person. Debt collectors may not contact you at inconvenient times, such as before 8 am and after 9 pm, unless you have agreed otherwise. They also may not contact you when they are aware you are at work and cannot take calls.
Can you stop contact?
Yes, you may write the collection agency to tell them to stop contacting you. However, this does not make any debts owed vanish. They may contact once more to inform you of no further contact when they receive the letter and any specific action that will take place. Be aware that the agency or original creditor may still sue you for debts owed.
Collector contacting another person about my debt
Debt collection practices in Texas as well as the Fair Debt Act allow, if you have an attorney, for that attorney to be contacted instead of you. Collectors may call other people to get information about how to contact you, but they are not allowed to discuss how much is owed. Your attorney is allowed this information.
What you have to know about your debt
After a collector contacts you within five days they must send you written notice. This notice will include how much is owed, who it is owed to, and what to do if you don’t believe the information is correct.
What if you do not owe the money?
You have 30 days to write the collection agency stating you do not owe the money. They will remove contact until the creditor sends proof of the debt owed.
Debt collection practices in Texas that are prohibited
- Harassment—collectors may not use repeated calls to annoy a debtor, use foul language, publish a list of debtors who have not paid (except to a bureau for credit use), and use threats to intimidate the debtor.
- False statements—collectors may not give you any false information about themselves or actions they do not intend to take. For example they cannot state a false name, or that they are attorneys when they are not, send you court papers that are not real, or stating that you will be arrested. They may not give out your personal information to anyone but a credit bureau and an attorney, and they cannot say that they will garnish, sell your property, seize or attach your things when they are not intending to actually do so.
- Unfair practices—collectors may not collect any amount higher than your debt, unless a charge of that kind is permitted by state law. They may not cash a post-dated check before the date it was signed for. Collectors cannot trick the debtor into taking telegrams or collect calls. Collectors may not threaten and take your property unless lawfully done so, and they cannot contact you through use of a postcard.
These are just a few of the debt collection practices in Texas and federally that a debtor needs to be aware of. These can help you when you are being threatened and want to know what your rights are. Having a collector treat you unfairly is unlawful, and you have the right to report them to federal prosecutors or your state attorney general. These laws make collections fair and less stressful for debtors.