If you are being threatened with a debt collection lawsuit, or if you are being harassed or sued over a debt by either a debt collector or an original creditor, you should know that there are some laws in place that could help you. This article will briefly discuss a few of the sources of legal rights you may have.
The difference between “Debt Collectors” and “Original Creditors”
First, a distinction that is very important in the law: the difference between debt collectors and original creditors. An “original creditor” is an entity (the law calls it a “person,” but it could be a human or a business) that extended credit to you in some way. For present purposes, it could also mean someone you owe money to in a non-credit transaction, and also means “servicers” of loans. Debt collectors are “persons” a significant part of whose business is the collection of debts due to other people.
Laws pertaining to Original Creditors
Because original creditors have some connection with the public other than debt collection and are therefore at least somewhat vulnerable to negative public opinion, the law gives them much more latitude in dealing with people who owe them money. They are not, however, permitted to assault you, obviously, or engage in other extreme and “outrageous” behavior. Where that line is drawn, however, differs from place to place. Some jurisdictions have allowed original creditors to post your name on a “hall of shame” board, for example, but I’ve never heard of anyone being allowed to chase you down the street calling you names. It’s vague, I know.
Laws do prevent anybody from defaming you (publication of false, seriously derogatory information), and this would include the publication of false information to your credit report. By and large the rule is, that all the basic rules apply to creditors, but very few special ones do. There might be particular laws in your jurisdiction, though, so you must take that with a grain of salt.
Laws pertaining to Debt Collectors
Debt collectors don’t have the “civilizing” connection to the community that most businesses do, and so the law is much more stringent regarding them. The rule there is that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes “unfair” or deceptive debt collection techniques illegal. Again, the law is rather vague, but this time its vagueness is in favor of debtors. Debt collectors try many sneaky and underhanded tricks, and many shockingly abusive and outrageous tricks too, and the law is designed to try to cover them all. For further discussion, please see other articles.
Other sources of legal protections include state merchandizing practices acts (which mostly apply to marketing techniques) the Federal Truth in Lending Act, the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Federal Trade Commission. Other resources could also include the Better Business Bureau and State Attorneys General.
For a much more complete understanding of the debt law – especially if you are being sued, check out the Debt Defense System. If you are still in negotiations and want more information about what that might mean or how to go about it, check out the Debt Negotiation and Settlement System. And of course this website has a wealth of information available for free. Be sure to contact me if you have questions.