Many Iowa debtors get anxious or scared when they receive a call or a text message from a debt collection company. In some cases, consumers owe the debts for which they are being contacted, and in other situations consumers are targeted for debts that they do not owe. Although it is unlawful, a representative from a collection agency might make threats against the consumer, including threats of sending the consumer to jail or using violence in order to obtain the debt that is owed. It is essential for consumers in Iowa to know that they have rights under the Iowa Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when it comes to contact with a collection agency.
Even if you legitimately owe the debt for which you are being contacted, the collection agency must treat you fairly and provide you with information that can allow you to properly dispute a debt. When you are contacted by a debt collector or collection agency, it is important to know what you should do—as well as what you should not do—in order to protect yourself.
What You Should Do When a Debt Collector Contacts You
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforces the FDCPA and provides helpful information to consumers about dealing with debt collectors. The following are things you should do if a collection agency contacts you:
- Ask for as much information from the collection agency as possible, including the name of the debt collector, the name of the creditor to whom you allegedly owe the debt, the date that you started owing the debt, and the amount of the debt. Write down all of this information so that you can refer back to it later on.
- Hire an Iowa consumer protection lawyer to help you dispute the debt and to handle contact with the collection agency representative.
- Inform the collection agency that you are represented by an attorney so that the debt collector will stop contacting you directly and will send all communication through your lawyer.
- Dispute the debt as soon as possible (but within 30 days at the latest) in writing. In most cases, the collection agency will have 5 days from the date of contacting you to provide you with written information about the debt you allegedly owe, including information about the creditor and the amount of the debt. You will then have 30 days in most cases to dispute that you owe the debt altogether or to dispute the amount. Before you dispute the debt in writing, you should be sure to have your lawyer work with you on the specific language you want to use.
- Inform your lawyer if you are facing harassment or other unlawful behavior from the collection agency. You may be able to file a claim under the Iowa Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the federal FDCPA.
What You Should Not Do When a Debt Collector Contacts You
If your debt is time-barred, it is extremely important to avoid making any statements or engaging in any behavior that could restart the statute of limitations on your debt. An Iowa consumer protection lawyer can discuss time-barred debt with you in more detail.