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According to the Urban Institute, a third of Americans currently are delinquent on their debt. The average debt of Alaskans is $68,524, with 33.1 percent of that debt currently in collections. Consumers whose debt has gone into collections have rights during the collections process.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are required to treat consumers fairly and are prohibited from engaging in certain practices in an attempt to recover money owed to creditors. The law prevents credit collection agencies from harassing consumers by requiring them to call only during set hours of the day, and never are they permitted to contact a consumer at their place of employment. Consumers also have the right to put a request in writing for the collection agency to stop calling them about the debt, which the agency must honor.
Other guidelines debt collection agencies must follow include not making false statements in an attempt to collect debt. For instance, a collection agency cannot misrepresent who they are when they call and they cannot say that a consumer be jailed for failure to pay debt. They may not issue threats to consumers including suggestions of bodily harm, as well as using profanity. Finally, improper disclosure to family, friends or coworkers. Debt collection agencies are not permitted to disclose the nature of a consumer?s debt to anyone except the consumer.
Even for consumers whose debt has entered the collections phase, it is not too late to consolidate debt to achieve lower monthly payments. A reputable credit counseling service can assist consumers in consolidating their debt into one low monthly payment. Under state law, creditors are required to work with consumers who qualify for debt consolidation.
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