Most people think debt collectors in Maryland can do anything they want to pursue payment, which makes debtors afraid to answer the phone. Collectors may attempt to collect debts, but the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits how they can contact debtors.
What debt collectors cannot do
A debt collector cannot harass a debtor. This includes repeated calls, visiting their workplace, threats of violence or abusive language. The Fair Debt Collection Act also prohibits collectors from calling before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. They cannot threaten to have a debtor arrested for debt. However, if the collector sues for the debt and the debtor misses court, the debtor could be arrested.
Sometimes, an error may lead a collection agency to pursue the wrong person for debt owed or a debt already paid. This usually comes from wrong information on a credit report or one that hasn’t been updated.
What debt collectors can do
While the debt collector may attempt to collect debt, the FDCA sets a statute of limitations on unsecured debt, such as medical bills or credit cards. After the time has passed to collect, the debt expires. The debt collector can still pursue the debt, but they cannot sue the debtor.
A debt collector can pressure a debtor without threats. They are allowed to sue for debt, which often results in wage garnishment or bank levies. In most cases, the debtor loses by default from not showing in court.
If the collectors haven’t been successful at collecting debt or collected partial payment, they can legally sell it to another agency. When a debt collector buys debt, they commonly make a huge profit, which permits them more flexibility to negotiate with debtors. The debtor could get the amount reduced by 25% to 30%.
Debt collection restrictions are determined by law, but the collectors don’t always follow it. If a debtor feels that they have been treated unfairly, they may seek legal services to learn about their options.