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Consumer laws restrict abusive behavior among debt collectors

Missing loan payments can trigger debt collectors to contact people in California. These entities that pursue money for unpaid creditors have the right to contact people by mail, email, telephone and text message. Although debtors have obligations to pay their loans, consumer laws grant them some rights when interacting with collection agents.

When communicating with debtors, collection agents cannot employ abusive tactics like threatening to attack, arrest or deport people. Collectors cannot attempt to shame people by publishing their debts in a public venue or contacting employers or relatives. Collectors can, however, contact other people to pursue contact information for debtors. Additionally, collection calls should only occur between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Sometimes, people receive demands from collection agencies about debts that they do not recognize. Everyone can request that a collection agent confirm the source of a debt. After a debtor asks for confirmation, an agency has five days to provide a written validation notice that describes the amount owed, creditor's name and what to do if the debt is not legitimate.

During conversations with collectors, people should not provide personal information like a Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number. People should not make payments until confirming that a debt is valid.

Contact from collectors can become stressful for a person struggling to make ends meet. When excessive debts become unmanageable, a person might talk to an attorney about bankruptcy protection. An attorney may examine the person's income and debts to determine if bankruptcy could provide relief from financial problems. To approach the court, an attorney may prepare the person's financial disclosures. Once the bankruptcy case begins, an attorney might assume communications with creditors and defend the person's rights while working toward a resolution that eases financial burdens.

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