Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Debt Collection in Texas
- Debt collection is not illegal. They can contact you to collect a debt. Debt collectors provide valuable services to keep the flow of economy moving by collecting money owed to creditors.
- You have the right to be treated fairly, with respect and with dignity by a debt collector.
- Debt collectors may not harass or oppress you or make false statements. A debt collector may not abuse you or any third party they contact. They cannot call you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you agree.
- A debt collector may not use threats of violence or harm. He may not use profane or obscene language and may not repeatedly call just to annoy someone.
- Debt collectors can call your job. However, they cannot contact you if they know your employer disapproves of such contact. Therefore, have your boss tell the collector to not call anymore or send a letter to the collection agency telling them this.
- Collectors cannot attempt to collect a debt from any third party; however collectors can call a third party to get an address, telephone number or place of employment (known as location information.) Once a collector has this information they may not contact the third party again.
- Can debt collectors call my family, neighbors or co-workers? Collectors cannot attempt to collect a debt from any third party. However, they can call a third party, but only to get your address, telephone number or the place where you work (known as location information) and normally only one time. Once a debt collector has this information, they may not contact the third party again.
- Can I get debt collectors to stop calling me? Yes, by sending a letter to the collector telling them to stop. Once they receive the letter they may only contact you to tell you that there will be no further contact or that they intend to take some specific action. Bear in mind, just because they stop calling doesn’t mean you no longer owe the debt. You can still be sued on that debt.
- Can a debt collector threaten to sue me or tell me that I will be arrested if I don’t pay? A debt collector can never imply that you have committed a crime or tell you that you will be arrested if you don’t pay. Debt collectors can threaten to sue you if they intend to do so. However, debt collectors cannot threaten to sue you if they don’t intend to do so or they legally cannot.
- Can a debt collector threaten to take my home or my wages? Not in Texas. A debt collector can only threaten to take actions that are allowed by law. Texas does not allow Texas companies to garnish wages. Texas also doesn’t allow a creditor with a judgment lien on your homestead to force the sale of it either.
- 10) What if I don’t think I owe the debt? Within 30 days of the initial contact, you must send the collection agency a letter stating that you don’t owe the money. During this time, the collector may not contact you. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt.
To learn more about Texas debt collection practices or tips on how to repair a credit report from a Houston bankruptcy attorney, log onto www.busby-lee.com. Or, call (713) 974-1151.
The author practices bankruptcy law in the Houston and Galveston divisions of the Southern District of Texas