Fighting Creditor Abuse in Utah
When you are unable to pay a debt, your original creditor may choose to sell or assign the balance to a collection agency. Debt collectors working for these agencies will employ numerous a variety of aggressive strategies to recover what it is owed. Many of these techniques are designed to make your life miserable. They are also often disingenuous and illegal.
You do not have to put up with creditor harassment. Our Salt Lake City collection abuse lawyer at Ayres Law Firm has over 20 years of experience and can help you fight unlawful behavior. We have a complete understanding of the laws that regulate creditor communications and can help you explore legal remedies when your rights are violated.
I have worked with Tyler and I can say with confidence that he is meticulous, creative, and listens. I would hire him in a heartbeat.S.M.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that works to protect borrowers from abusive and deceptive behavior. The FDCPA applies to all situations where a third party, such as a collection agency, is attempting to collect on a debt.
Under the FDCPA, creditors cannot:
- Call you at inconvenient hours. Some collection agents will call late at night or early in the morning in an effort to annoy a debtor into compliance. The law mandates that a debt collector cannot call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM.
- Call repeatedly. Debt collectors may try to call over and over, even calling back immediately after you hang up on them, as a means of harassment. Collection agents cannot under any circumstances engage in harassing behavior, and as of January 2022, they will only be able to make a maximum of 7 calls in a 7-day period.
- Call you at work. Receiving calls from debt collectors at work can be embarrassing and inappropriate. Collection agents are required to stop calling you at work once you ask them to refrain from doing so.
- Threaten you. Debt collectors cannot threaten violence against you, your loved ones, your reputation, or your property in any communication with you.
- Use abusive language. Debt collectors cannot swear or use obscene or profane language in an effort to intimidate or harass you.
- Advertise your debt. Collection agents can only discuss your debt with you and your spouse. Collectors may reach out to friends or family to learn how to contact you, but they cannot say why they are calling or disclose that you owe a debt.
- Misrepresent their identity. Debt collectors must appropriately identify themselves as third-party collection agents. They cannot pretend to be a lawyer or government agent and must disclose the actual name of their agency when asked.
- Lie. Collectors cannot deliberately come after you for debts that are not yours. They also cannot inflate the amount you owe, claim they will sue you if the statute of limitations on the debt has passed, or threaten you with any other legal action that they cannot actually pursue.
The FDCPA pivotally allows you to ask debt collectors to stop contacting you entirely. This request must be made in writing. Note that exercising your right to block further communications may prompt debt collectors to pursue legal action against you. Our Salt Lake City collection abuse attorney can assess your situation and advise what steps you should take to exercise your rights and protect yourself.
Collection agencies are required by law to provide you with a written debt validation notice within 5 days of their first communication with you. This notice informs you of your right to request a debt validation within 30 days.
You should always dispute the validity of a debt. If you do not request a debt validation within the 30-day window, the collection agency gets to assume the debt is valid. It is possible that a collection agency is attempting to compel you to pay for a debt that you do not actually owe, a debt you already paid off, or a debt they do not own.
When you submit a debt validation request, the collection agency must provide evidence that the debt is real and that they have the authority to collect. This will generally include documentation from the original creditor verifying you owe the debt and that the agency purchased or was assigned the debt.
If a collection agency cannot validate the debt, they cannot attempt to compel you to pay it. They also cannot report the debt to the credit bureaus.
You should also confirm your debt is within Utah’s statute of limitations. Once a certain amount of time has passed, collection agencies can no longer seek judgments against you or otherwise attempt to collect on a debt. Debt collectors also cannot threaten to sue you if they know the statute of limitations has passed.
Utah’s statute of limitations for debts include:
- 3 years for state tax debt
- 4 years for automobile loans
- 6 years for credit card debt
- 6 years for medical debt
If debt collectors can validate a debt that is within the statute of limitations, they can continue to communicate with you until you formally ask them to stop in writing. You should be cautious when leveraging this right, as ending communications will likely result in collection agents pursuing judgments against you in court. A creditor lawsuit can result in wage garnishments, liens, and other harsh penalties.
Keep a written record of all communications you have with debt collectors, especially if you suspect your rights may have been violated. If you believe you have been the victim of creditor harassment, our Salt Lake City collection abuse lawyer at Ayres Law Firm can help you enforce your rights and pursue all forms of available legal action. We can communicate with debt collectors on your behalf, assist you with filing complaints with the relevant state and federal agencies, and represent you in civil lawsuits filed against collection agencies that violate your rights under the FDCPA.
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