I almost have my car paid off and last night I called into the bank to get some information on the payoff. I went through the normal hoops of providing them with account information and the last four digits of my social security number but the bank didn’t stop there. I was then asked for my address, my work address, my home phone number, my work phone number, my cell phone number, and my email address. I gave them my home address and home phone but that is where it stopped. I informed the pleasant person on the other end of the phone that I don’t give that information out, which they accepted – and then proceeded on with asking me for the next bit of personal information.
After I got off the call I wondered how many people just spit the information out as fast as the bank asks it? We too often hand over personal information to companies and strangers without a second thought. Ask yourself, why do they want this information? If things go bad and you can’t pay your bill you have given these creditors a detailed road map of where to go to collect from you.
Too often we allow abusive creditors to assert power over us simply because they asked. You have rights under federal and Arizona state law the protect you as a consumer from the ever prying eye of the debt collectors. Here are few examples:
You Don’t Deserve Bad Treatment from Debt Collectors
Many people that fall on hard times start to believe that it is okay that debt collectors treat them like garbage. That because you can’t pay your debts that somehow you deserve to take the abuse. Don’t allow yourself to think this way. Federal law prohibits creditors from treating you in an undignified or disrespectful manner. A debt collector is permitted to call you and ask for payment. They are not permitted to harass, yell, swear, lie, or misrepresent any of the possible repercussions of not paying a bill. If they do, you should sue them.
If you Don’t Want a Debt Collector Calling You, Tell Them to Stop (In Writing)
If creditors are calling you day and night you can make it stop by simply telling them to stop. The only catch is that you have to tell them to stop in writing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) states that if you provide written notification to a debt collector and tell them to stop calling you, then they must. And if they don’t, you can sue them for violating the FDCPA.
Don’t Answer Discovery Requests With Personal, Irrelevant Information
If you are involved in a debt collection lawsuit with one of the big debt buyers you will sometimes run into the situation where they will send you written discover requests (i.e. Requests for Admission, Request for Production of Documents, Request for Interrogatories) and will ask you for personal information that is not relevant to the case. For example, I have seen them ask for current bank records, your social security number, you employment information, etc. That information is not relevant to an old credit card debt and you shouldn’t turn it over just because they are asking for it. You can object and let them know you believe it to be irrelevant and if they want it they are going to have to explain to a judge why they believe they need that information at that point in the litigation.
The point of all of this is, the creditor only has as much power over you as you let them. They will often try and stake out the high ground and act like they are the good guys in the white hat. But I have seen enough of the disgusting behavior that goes on to know that you should never feel that you need to take their abuse simply because you fell behind on your bills.
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John Skiba, Esq.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your debt problem and help you put together a game plan to eliminate your debt once and for all. Give us a call at (480) 420-4028