If you are being aggressively pursued by a debt collector, you are probably asking, “What debt collection practices are prohibited in Minnesota?” Unfair debt collection practices are a leading motivator for filing bankruptcy. Many people who find themselves unable to pay their debts don’t want to get away with not paying. They just want the harassment to stop.
The current economic environment has made debt collection big business. In recent years, people have found their mortgages underwater, they have lost their jobs, or their income has not kept pace with the cost of living. Many debt collectors are vultures, preying on the misfortune of others.
Education is key when dealing with debt collectors. Minnesota’s consumer protection statutes protect you by prohibiting the unethical practices of debt collectors. In many ways, Minnesota law mirrors federal law. However, Minnesota takes things a step further. A debt collector cannot:
- Threaten legal action or wage garnishment if they do not intent to take action and have an attorney,
- Use an officer of the law to serve paperwork unless it is part of their lawful duties,
- Threaten actions that violate any Minnesota law,
- Give legal advice or practice law if they are not legally competent to do so,
- Use letters and correspondence that are deceptive, such as using notices that look like court documents,
- Take action with the intent to shame, like publishing your name in a newspaper or on the internet,
- Use an attorney to collect the debt if the original creditor has not authorized the action,
- Refuse a proper request to validate a debt,
- Use a business name that implies they are a government agency,
- Commingle collected money with the agency’s operating funds,
- Communicate using a recorded message unless the initial contact is with a live person,
- State health care services will be withheld until debt is paid,
- Fail to disclose the agency’s full legal name as it appears on their license,
- Use neighbors or any 3rd party not living in the consumer’s home to make contact,
- Collect money not owed or fail to return an overpayment,
- Collect fees that are not authorized in the original agreement,
- Manufacturing documents to deceive either the consumer or creditor, or
- Violate any provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977.
If you would like to talk more about what debt collection practices are prohibited in Minnesota, or need more information, please contact us.