Ignoring debt collection notices does not make them go away. Ripping them up does not work either. Turning your cell phone off, muting the ringer, or blocking calls does not keep bill collectors at bay. That does not mean there is nothing you can do. In fact, you have certain rights under Nevada and federal laws.
Your rights to limited contact under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. In a nutshell, this law prohibits debt collectors from employing abusive, unfair, or deceptive tactics when dealing with debtors.
This does not mean a debt collector cannot contact you. Legally, a debt collector can contact you through traditional mail, email, phone, or text message. However, there are certain constraints. For example, a debt collector cannot initiate communication with you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without your consent. Debt collectors are also barred from contacting you at work if they are informed you are not allowed to receive calls there.
Debt collectors must refrain from having any contact with you if you send them a formal letter by mail asking them to cease communications. Upon receipt, the debt collector can only contact you to a) acknowledge the request; and b) let you know about any specific actions you may face. Debt collectors must also speak directly with your attorney once you inform them you have retained counsel.
Prohibited conduct under the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:
- Make violent threats, threaten to hurt you or your family
- Swear or use inappropriate language
- Make harassing phone calls
- Make false or misleading statements about your debt
- Pretend to be attorneys or government representatives
- Make untrue claims about the legal consequences you may face
- Attempt to collect interest, fees, or other charges in addition to the amount owed, unless the original contract or your state law allows it
- Deposit a post-dated check early
- Seize or threaten to seize your belongings unless it can be done legally
Prohibited conduct under Nevada state law
Chapter 649 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) governs debt collection practices here. NRS 649.370 stipulates that any violation of the federal law detailed above, or any regulation adopted following it, is also considered a violation of state law. However, NRS 649.375 also bars debt collectors from doing the following:
- Engaging in deceitful practices or misrepresenting their identity and purpose to collect a debt
- Collecting or attempting to collect interest, fees, or other charges in addition to the amount owed, with certain exceptions
- Harassing a debtor’s employer while collecting or attempting to collect a debt
- Engaging in any conduct that can be legally defined as harassment while attempting to collect or collecting a debt
- Publishing or posting, or causing the publication any list of debtors, with certain exceptions
Legal remedies under federal and state laws
The FTC recommends reporting any issues with debt collectors to the state attorney general’s office or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The FTC also investigates complaints about debt collection agencies.
You may also be able to sue a debt collection agency in a state or federal court, but the deadline for doing so is one year from the date the law was violated. If you are successful, you may be compensated for losses such as lost wages and medical bills. Even if you are unable to prove that you suffered certain losses, you may still get up to $1,000, plus reimbursement for attorney’s fees and court costs. In a class action lawsuit, winning plaintiffs may receive up to $500,000 in compensation for losses incurred; or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever amount is lower.
Another option for Nevada residents is to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Financial Institutions so the matter can be investigated. If there is any finding of wrongdoing, the commissioner has two options. He or she can notify the district attorney for the county where the business is conducted. The district attorney will then initiate relevant legal processes.
The commissioner can also initiate a lawsuit in the name and on behalf of the State of Nevada to halt the illicit practices.
Whatever you do, do not leave anything to chance. Contact Debt Rescue Law to learn how we can help you find relief from stressful debt and debt collection, today. You can reach us at 833-707-1234.