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What debtors need to know about their rights

According to a 2018 study, the average person in the United States has $38,000 in debt not including a mortgage. Virginia residents who are unable to pay a debt balance may receive phone calls from creditors or agencies. While it may be stressful to receive those calls, debtors do have rights that creditors and other parties must respect. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits activities such as telling an employer about a person's financial situation.

Debt collection agencies are not allowed to contact debtors who ask them to stop doing so. Furthermore, they are not allowed to contact an individual before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless they have permission to do so. Debtors are not allowed to be threatened, harassed or subject to abusive language, and debt collectors are not allowed to lie in an effort to obtain a payment.

For instance, they are not allowed to lie about how much a person owes or what could happen if a payment is not received. They are also not allowed to mislead a person regarding any statute of limitations that could apply to a given debt balance. Individuals must be informed in writing about the amount of a debt balance, the name of the original creditor and other details.

Filing for personal bankruptcy may make it possible to have debts discharged or reorganized. In most cases, an individual is entitled to at least a temporay automatic stay of creditor collection activities. This might mean that debt collectors will no longer be able to send letters, make phone calls or proceed with plans to file lawsuits.

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