It can be easy for people to fall behind on their credit card bills and other consumer debts. People can face difficult financial times that make it impossible to pay. A job loss, a medical crisis and other emergencies are often to blame. In these situations, collection agencies will often aggressively try to collect the money that they are owed. Under the law, collection agencies do have certain remedies for collecting debt including wage garnishment, repossession or foreclosure — depending on the type of loan.

While creditors’ rights seem vast, creditors — particularly collection agencies — have a lot of rules that they must follow while exercising their right to collect an unpaid debt. Tennessee residents should be aware of these rules and their own legal rights to make sure they are not unnecessarily subject to creditor harassment.

First, people should understand that the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act prevents collection agencies from harassing consumers. Collection agencies cannot threaten consumers, use abusive language, call multiple times or become a nuisance. If creditors break these rules, they can be subject to penalties by state and federal governments, and in civil court.

Consumers also have the right to force a collection agency to show that they actually owe a debt. Consumers do not just have to pay a debt because a collection agency says they owe it. Instead, consumers have the right to receive written verification of the debt within 30 days.

Experts suggest that people take advantage of these rights whenever they are dealing with a collection agency. They also suggest that recording phone calls, getting communications in writing and certifying mail can help to streamline the process when dealing with a creditor that is trying to collect a debt.

Source: Fox Business, “10 Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors, Collection,” Fred O. Williams, April 3, 2014