Are You Being Harassed by a Debt Collection Agency? We can Help
When you fail to pay a debt, it is not uncommon for the party you owe to turn the debt over to a collection agency. However, state and federal laws regulate how these debts may be collected. All debt collectors must adhere to the standards of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and at the same time, in Georgia, there are additional laws that the state has in place that must also be followed.
Georgia Debt Collection Laws
The Office of Consumer Affairs regulates the laws of debt collection in Georgia. These include the statute of limitations. Under these laws, a debt that is the result of a breach of contract must follow a statute of limitations of no more than four years. After the date of the last payment on a written contract, the statute of limitations increases to six years.
The state guidelines for how creditors can contact the borrower are similar to federal laws. Legal actions for collecting debt in Georgia include letters, phone calls, faxes, and emails. Collectors may also contact the debtor until they are notified that the debtor has obtained legal representation. The collection agency must provide the debtor with the names of the original creditor, the amount of money owed, and prove that the debt is valid.
Creditors are not allowed to publish or advertise the debt, threaten or harass the debtor during calls using abusive or profane language, threaten legal action that they do not intend to take, adjust the amount of debt owed, incur additional expenses that end up being given to the debtor, contact the debtor at his or her place of employment once the debtor tells them not to, or garnish wages without a judgment from the court. In addition, a collection agency must only contact a debtor under what are considered reasonable times. This means that they can not contact anyone earlier than 8 a.m. or later than 9 p.m.
Debt Settlement and Negotiation Rules
If the debt you need to pay is substantial, but you are unable to pay it, you may ask the collection agency if they will consider a payment plan. Most debtors are willing to do this, but it is recommended that you get the terms of the agreement in writing before beginning payments. Failing to do so could result in the collector using the information against you.
As a debtor, you also need to be aware that some debt collection agencies will tell you to stop making payments until a payment plan is created. It is important for you to know that this is against the law in Georgia. If you do this, you will incur late fees and possibly other fees from the company you owe. Debt companies, however, are not allowed to charge you more than 7.5% of what you owe in fees.
Get Help from a Georgia Attorney
If you feel like a Georgia debt collector is not treating you fairly, you need the assistance of a Georgia attorney. The attorneys at Cornwell Law Firm will ensure that your rights are being protected and that collection agencies are following the laws of Georgia. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.