Handling debt collectors in Kentucky

Although the media has been ablaze lately with talk of economic recovery from the "Great Recession," many in Kentucky are still feeling the financial pinch. As a result of the recession, many have lost their jobs or have been unable to find a job that pays enough to cover their living expenses. When people get behind on their bills, it is common to start receiving phone calls from creditors and collection agencies. As most people are unfamiliar with dealing with creditors, it is important for them to understand that they have certain rights and protections against creditor harassment.

Rights of debtors

If you are receiving harassing phone calls or letters, you may think that since you owe the debt, the collection agency is free to do or say whatever they want when attempting to collect the debt. Fortunately, federal law protects you from unfair, abusive or misleading collection tactics. Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors attempting to collect a consumer debt (the act does not apply to business debt) are prohibited from doing the following:

  • Calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • Calling you at work, if you have told the collector not to
  • Using abusive, obscene or threatening language
  • Pretending to be law enforcement
  • Contacting third parties (e.g. family, friends and bosses) without your permission
  • Threatening jail or imprisonment
  • Threatening to take legal action (e.g. lawsuit, wage garnishment or property seizure) if there is no intention to do so
  • Continuing to contact you after you have requested them not to

Under the FDCPA, creditors have a powerful incentive to obey these rules, since it gives you the right to file a lawsuit against the creditor for any actual damages that you sustained because of each violation. Additionally, even if you do not have any damages, you may recover up to $1,000 per violation plus attorneys' fees and court costs.

As debt collectors have been known to collect debts that are invalid or are so old that you cannot be legally compelled to pay it (i.e. past the statute of limitations), if you are contacted by a debt collector, request documentation of the debt. By law, once you request documentation of the debt, creditors are barred from resuming collection activities against you until they provide you with written verification of the debt.

Consult an attorney

If you are struggling financially and cannot pay your legitimate debts, it might be a good idea to consider filing bankruptcy. Once bankruptcy has been filed, all your creditors must stop contacting you and cease collection attempts. During bankruptcy, most of your debt, such as credit cards or medical bills, can be wiped out, meaning that the creditors may no longer collect the debt even after the bankruptcy process has been completed. This can be done without you having to lose all your property.

To learn more about how bankruptcy can rescue you from your crushing debt load, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can advise you on the debt relief option that is right for you.