Nobody likes having debt collectors contact them, and an already unpleasant situation is often exacerbated by debt collectors who fail to adhere to state and federal laws protecting debtors. A debt collector is anyone who regularly performs debt collection services.
In Minnesota, debt collection agencies and their employees must be registered with the state in order to legally perform collection activities within it. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted by Congress in response to abuse and harassment by collection agencies which led to increased bankruptcy filings. Thus, the FDCPA seeks to regulate the conduct of debt collectors.
Read on to learn how you can protect yourself from debt collectors in Minnesota.
The FDCPA prohibits certain conduct, such as:
- Contacting your relatives, neighbors, or employer about the debt
- Threatening to sue, to damage your credit rating, to repossess, or to garnish absent actual intent
- Making repeated telephone calls or calls at unreasonable times—before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. unless you have specifically given the debt collector permission to call during that time
- Calling you at work or other inconvenient places
- Informing your boss of the purpose of the call
- Using obscenities, insults, or racial or ethnic slurs
- Sending letters appearing to be from a court
- Requesting post-dated checks and threatening to prosecute you if they bounce
- Making false representations while trying to collect the debt
- Using false claims to collect information about you from others
- Threatening to have you arrested
Minnesota law further regulates collection practices. In addition to FDCPA restrictions, state law requires more disclosure by the debt collector such as their name, agency, telephone number, and that they are licensed in Minnesota.
How to Protect Yourself
If you have been victimized by debt collectors, you have several remedies. You can:
- Report them to the Federal Trade Commission and Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
- Request debt validation and proof of your liability. Within five days of their first contact with a debtor, collectors must send written correspondence with the creditor’s name and the amount owed. Filing a dispute stops collection actions for 30 days.
- Ask the creditor for proof of the last action on the debt. In Minnesota, there is a six-year statute of limitations on consumer debt which begins when the last action was taken or when the loan first became delinquent.
- Stop collection calls. Sending a “no contact” letter to creditors immediately stops contact except for notification of further legal action.
- Respond to legitimate court documents such as summons and complaints promptly, otherwise, your creditor may obtain a judgment against you and subsequently garnish your wages or bank accounts.
For more information or to schedule a consultation if you have been a victim of unscrupulous debt collectors, please contact us.