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Dealing with debt collectors isn’t likely on a list of anyone’s pleasurable activities. There are some instances in which dealing with creditors or third party collection agencies can be a real test of patience. Fortunately, consumers do have some rights when dealing with debt collectors. The Federal Trade Commission highlighted some of these during National Consumer Protection Week, which was the week beginning March 2.

One of the most important things for consumers to know is that creditors must validate the debt if you request them to do so. This means that if you dispute a debt and request that the collection agency provide you with written proof, collection activity must stop until that proof is provided to you. In this case, you must communicate with the debt collector to make your dispute known.

Another important point to remember is that you have the right to protect your personal information. Giving out your financial information, Social Security number or other personal information isn’t something that you have to do unless you are fully sure that the collection agency and debt are valid.

When a debt collector calls, you have the right to know who the debt collector is and what agency they represent. They must identify themselves to you. In no case can they call anonymously. They also can’t claim to represent any government agency.

With consumer debt exceeding $11.5 trillion, it stands to reason that a lot of calls are going out to consumers from debt collectors. If you have to deal with these calls, you don’t have to deal with the person on the other end being rude, demeaning or threatening, since those behaviors are also forbidden. If you have been the victim of harassment by creditors, the advice of a Florida bankruptcy attorney can help you learn what your next step should be.

Source: LoanSafe.org, “ACA Reminds Consumers of the Importance of Knowing Your Rights During Debt Collection” Alex Ferreras, Mar. 03, 2014