Debtors in Massachusetts owe a lot of money in mortgage debt and student loans. And many of these people are struggling with the burden of debt and want to find a way out. Bankruptcy is sometimes an option, but dealing with debt collectors can be a challenge.
To make the debt problem more manageable, the state continually comes up with laws relating to collection. In addition, the state offers significant protection for debtors and guidelines for debt collectors. Plymouth bankruptcy attorneys have answers on what debt collectors can and cannot do.
What Laws Govern Fair and Unfair Debt Collection Practices?
Among the things that Massachusetts laws seek to discourage is creditor behaviors that are unfair to the debtor. Actions that seem to embarrass or harass you are not allowed. Creditors are required to use proper language when addressing you, avoid making threats, and communicate within reasonable hours.
Some of the laws that outline the guidelines of debt collection in Massachusetts include:
- Massachusetts General Laws of Chapter 93
- Supreme Judicial Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct
- The Attorney General’s Debt Collection Regulations
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restrictions
You might find that most of the clauses in the above laws are written in ‘legalese’ language. As a result, a layperson might struggle to understand it entirely, but a Plymouth bankruptcy attorney can simplify the information for their clients.
Who Can Collect on a Debt in Massachusetts?
Acquainting yourself with the debt collection laws in Massachusetts can really empower you. And this includes knowing the people allowed to attempt to collect from you.
The company or person owed can reach out to you concerning the debt. No license is required for them to do that. They only need to comply with the debt collection regulations.
Sometimes, creditors sell delinquent debts to agencies that become the new owners. Thus, they have a right to collect from you. These agencies often use attorneys or debt collectors to reach out to you.
Instead of hiring debt collectors, some creditors and debt buyers opt to use an attorney to contact you. However, an attorney cannot do this without a license allowing them to practice debt collection in the Commonwealth.
Debt collectors are usually hired to collect on behalf of the creditor or a debt buyer. But since they do not have direct rights to the debt, a debt collector must have a license applied through the Division of Banks.
So, make sure that the person collecting from you possesses the right authorization to do so. But if you are unsure, you could consult with Plymouth debt collector harassment attorneys.
What Can’t a Debt Collector Do?
The law protects Massachusetts residents from debt collectors’ unfair and deceptive practices.
Here are a few things that a third-party collection agency, debt buyer, or creditor cannot do:
- Call your house more than twice a week to discuss a single debt
- Call your workplace more than twice a month regarding a single debt
- Call without identifying themselves
- Call you directly if you have already obtained a lawyer
- Call you at work after you requested them not to
- Call you outside the waking hours
- Frequently visit your home beyond the stipulated waking hours within 30 days
- Threaten you with arrest, imprisonment, or any other illegal action
Notably, unfair creditor techniques are not limited to the ones listed above. So, if you feel like they are not acting right, you might want to seek the advice of an experienced debt collector harassment lawyer Plymouth, MA.
What is Considered Waking Hours in Massachusetts?
The regular waking hours in Massachusetts are between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Phone calls before 8:00 a.m. are considered too early, and those coming after 9:00 p.m. are considered too late. Usually, debt collectors are expected to make calls within these hours.
However, note that people’s circumstances might be different. For instance, your waking hours could be different if you work at night. So, remember to notify the debtor of your waking hours to ensure that your sleep isn’t distracted.
What if I Don’t Want a Debt Collector to Contact Me at Work?
If you are uncomfortable with a debt collector calling you at work, it is essential to follow the right procedures. Oral requests will be ideal if you want to stop the calls for a short period. But if you want it to stop for a prolonged period, you might want to put it in writing.
An oral request can bar the calls for only ten days. On the other hand, written requests stand for as long as you desire. Therefore, you will only begin to receive the calls when you remove the restriction. Speak to a skilled Plymouth debt collector harassment attorney for further guidance on this.
Can I Use Illegal Debt Collection Practices as Defense?
Unfair debt collection practices are not only illegal but can also be used as a defense in a lawsuit. Just make sure that you respond to the notice of a lawsuit on time to prevent a default judgment against you. Don’t forget that you only have 20 days to file your response.
And 20 days includes weekends, holidays, and working days. But if day-20 falls on a weekend or holiday, be sure to submit your response within the next business day. After that, an attorney in Massachusetts can guide you on using an unfair practice to your advantage.
Attorneys Helping Clients Obtain Financial Freedom
People struggling with overwhelming debts have rights in Massachusetts. But these rights can be infringed if you are unaware of them or have no attorney to fight for them. That debt shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment or harassment for anyone.
If you are looking for solutions to get you out of debt, the attorneys at Benner & Weinkauf, P.C. can help you out. And while you figure out the best way out of debt, we can ensure that the debt collectors in Massachusetts do not mistreat you. Speak to us today and let us address all your concerns.