Student loans are a serious concern for many Americans. According to Forbes, more than 44 million people owe about $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S.
This debt may feel overwhelming, and you could be struggling to make student loan payments. The good news is if you are struggling with payments, you are protected against some debt collection practices through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA prohibits certain predatory behaviors by debt collectors. Here is what you need to know.
When and where can a debt collector contact me?
Debt collectors are prohibited from calling you in the middle of the night. The law states they cannot call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If you tell a debt collector you cannot get calls at work, they can no longer contact you there.
Can a collector contact my boss?
A debt collector can only speak to you or your spouse about your debt. If you have hired an attorney to represent you, the collector must contact your attorney. A debt collector can call your boss to get your contact information, but they cannot discuss your debt or reach out to him or her more than once.
Is a debt collector allowed to continuously call you?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, a collector is not allowed to harass you by repeatedly contacting you by phone. They also cannot use obscene language when they call.
Other behaviors are illegal under the FDCPA. Debt collectors also cannot:
- Be untruthful about how much money you owe
- Misrepresent themselves as attorneys or members of the government
- Falsely claim legal action will occur, like an arrest
- Try to collect additional fees, unless your original contract allowed it
If a debt collector contacted you in violation of these terms, you have recourse against these actions. You could contact the Virginia Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you believe a collector violated the law, you may also consider filing a lawsuit against them.