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Dealing with creditors isn’t high on the list of activities considered fun for most people. Regardless, if the debt collectors are calling, it is important for you to know your rights. These rights are covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. That act, which applies to residents of all the states in the United States, covers anyone who collect debts on a regular basis. These can include collection agencies, debt buyers, and other companies.

When you are contacted by the debt collectors, even if you don’t owe a debt, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you speak to them at least once to see if the issue can be resolved. You can then decide how to proceed.

It is important for you to realize that debt collectors can’t call you at times that aren’t convenient for you. They can only call between 8:00 in the morning and 9:00 at night unless you give them permission to call you outside of those hours. They also aren’t allowed to call you at work once you tell them either in writing or verbally that you can’t have calls there.

You should also know that if you are contacted by a debt collector, you can request validation of the debt. Within five days of their initial contact with you, they have to send you a written statement that lists the original creditor, amount owed, and how to dispute the debt. You must follow those instructions if you don’t believe you owe the debt.

If you decide that you don’t want to be contacted again regarding the alleged debt, you can send the debt collector a letter demanding they stop contact attempts. They can only contact you to let you know they will take action, such as a lawsuit, or to tell you they won’t contact you again.

When you send a letter, make sure to send it with a return receipt so you have proof it was delivered. Also, keep a copy of the letter. Understanding these points of the FDCPA will help you to effectively deal with harassing creditors.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, “Debt Collection,” July 18, 2014