Common Debt Collection Questions

In the literally thousands of consumers that we have assisted
here at SmithMarco, PC and our Protecting Consumer Rights website, we have seen what
the most popular questions or concerns are about
collections.  Here we answer them for all:

When can a debt collector contact me?
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) the
federal statute
specifically states that a debt collector may
not contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. 
Furthermore, the law states that a collector may not contact you at
a time [or place] that is inconvenient for you, so if you advise
the collector that he or she is not allowed to call at a certain
time and the collector ignores your request, the conduct is
considered a violation of the statute too. 

Can a debt collector leave a message on my answering
machine or voicemail?

The answer to this question is yes, BUT the collector must be very
careful here.  If a debt
collector contacts you and leaves a message
then the collector
must disclose his or her identity and disclose that the purpose of
the call is to collect a debt.   However, if the message
is heard by a third party (friend or family member that is not a
spouse) then the collector has violated the statute and may be held
accountable for the conduct. 

How often may a collector contact

Section 1692d(5)
of the FDCPA states that a debt collect may
not “engag[e] any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or
continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or
.”  While the statute does not specifically state
how much is too much
, a few times a week is likely considered a
reasonable amount of contact while a few times a day is likely
considered to cross the line and violate the law. 

Can a collector continue to contact me if I don’t owe
the debt?

If you
notify the collector in writing
that you do not owe the debt
and you request that the collector cease all communication with
you, then the collector cannot continue to contact you until it
provides you with proof that it believes the debt to be

Can a collector contact me at my place of

As stated above, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from
contacting debtors at inconvenient or unusual places. The law goes
on to specifically state that a collector cannot call a consumer at
their place of employment if the collector has some notice that the
consumer cannot accept those calls at work.   Thus, make
sure to communicate this with the collector and once he or she is
put on notice the calls to your job must stop or the collector has
violated the law.  

Can a collector garnish my wages?
The simple answer to this question is yes, but only after he or she
has successfully sued you, obtained a judgment against you, 
and served your employer with a court order granting the
garnishment.  In other words, a collector cannot garnish your
wages if you do not make payment on the debt without first serving
you with a lawsuit and then winning the case against

Can I go to jail for not paying my debts?
Quite simply, NO.  You cannot be put in jail for owing a
consumer debt and a debt collector who threatens you with jail time
is violating the FDCPA.   Some consumers have come to us
stating that they were, in fact, jailed because of the debt. This
is not true.  If ever a person finds themselves being taken in
because of a debt, I assure you that they are not being taken in
because they owe money.  Chances are that the consumer was
served an order by a court to appear to testify regarding what
assets they may have to pay off a debt.  But the consumer
ignored the notice and refused to go to court despite the judge
specifically requesting them to appear.  If someone ignores
the judge and don’t show up when requested, then the judge may hold
them in contempt of court, and issue a bench warrant to have the
person brought in.  That is, the person is being brought in
for ignoring the judge, not because the debt is owed. 

If you are having problems with debt collection or have any
questions regarding your involvement with a debt collector contact
SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.