Commentary

January 18, 2013

Legal Assistance Tip #13: Fair debt collection

Air Force photograph by Kenji Thuloweit

Millions of Americans carry some amount of debt, and people that fail to manage their debt appropriately face collection actions.

This can be an intimidating and overwhelming process, but knowing a little about the debt collection industry and federal law may help you through the process.

Debt collection in the United States is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Debt is bought and sold by collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. Debt buyers then use various methods to attempt to collect the debt.

Typically, if your debt is being pursued by a collection agency you can expect to receive letters and phone calls. These agencies, unlike the institution you actually had the debt with, oftentimes will have no historical information regarding the alleged debt.

Normally, an agent for a collections company will have the amount of the debt, the price their company purchased it for and a settlement range. Their ultimate goal is to collect an amount of the debt greater than the amount they paid for it.

When working with a collection agency there is some flexibility and room for negotiation. Since they likely did not pay full price for the debt they are trying to collect they can settle the debt at a price below what you actually owed.

In addition, they might be willing to create a payment plan. This allows them to meet their goal of collecting the debt and the installment payments may allow you to better handle paying it off. Remember, their ultimate goal is to collect an amount above what they paid for your debt. Usually, debt collection agencies will be willing to work with you because they would rather find a way to collect the debt than collect nothing.

In addition to knowing a little bit about the debt collection industry, knowing a little bit about federal law and the protections they afford you will also help you better manage the debt collection process.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act offers some protection for consumers from abusive debt collection practices. This federal law broadly defines a consumer as any natural person and debt as any obligation for money, goods, or services incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.

It prohibits collection calls during unusual or inconvenient times and places (calls between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. are allowed). It prohibits contact with a consumer represented by counsel. It prevents calls to your place of employment if they have reason to know calls are not allowed.

In addition, it stops debt collectors from contacting third parties like your friends and family (unless it is to obtain location information).

Most importantly, debt collectors cannot engage in conduct, which in nature, is to harass, oppress or abuse any person. This means no threats of violence or harming your property or reputation. It also means no abusive or obscene language and misusing the phone (constant ringing). These are just some of the protections offered by the act. It is important to know your rights and not let debt collection companies engage in illegal and abusive conduct.

 

If you are entitled to legal assistance (generally active duty, retirees and dependents with ID cards) and have a question about debt collection or any other personal, civil legal matter, the Base Legal Office is here to help.

 

For more information, contact the Base Legal Office at (661) 277-4310.

Legal assistance attorneys are available to assist eligible clients 10-11 a.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 3-4 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. Paralegals can provide power of attorney and notary services 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Fridays. A will or power of attorney will be completed the same day a client walks-in. Expedite the process of getting a will, advance medical directive, health care power of attorney, or any other power of attorney drafted by utilizing the worksheets on the Air Force Legal Assistance website: https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil/.

 

In addition to our walk-in services, the legal office now offers an additional way to expedite drafting a will. You may now schedule an appointment between 9 and 10 a.m., Fridays. to have your will pre-drafted. If you choose to use this process, an attorney will have your will drafted and ready for your review when you arrive for your appointment.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs February 27, 2015

Library closure The Base Library will be closing early Feb. 28 for an official function. Hours of operation will be 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. For more information, call 661-275-2665. Blood drive The next American Red Cross Blood Drive on Edwards AFB is 10 a.m.-4 p.m., March 4 in the Chapel 1 Annex. Both...
 
 

Just American: A century of Black life

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted Harvard-trained historian Carter Woodson. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially...
 
 

Leadership development program nominations due March 16

Nomination packages for majors and major-selects interested in the Defense Department 2015-2016 Executive Leadership Development Program are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by March 16, officials announced. The program, designed specifically for highly motivated officers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership ability, commitment to public service and integrity, and who have an inter...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka

C-12 pilots take to skies at Edwards

Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka Edwards AFB is home to the U.S. Air Force C-12 school house. Referred to as a split school house, when an individual is assigned to fly an Air Force C-12 Huron, they spend three weeks in Alab...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Jim Varhegyi

AF senior leaders caution against sequestration

Air Force photograph by Jim Varhegyi Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III answers a question about the fiscal year 2016 President’s Budget request during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on D...
 
 

Soldier, retirees win big with Exchange’s ‘Your Holiday Bill Is On Us’ contest

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service made dreams come true for three grand-prize winners of the MILITARY STAR® “Your Holiday Bill Is On Us” sweepstakes—and for one young Soldier from Fort Bliss, winning has changed her life. As a grand-prize winner, Sgt. Kakala Loketi had her MILITARY STAR® account paid in full. During a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>