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Collection agencies must respect a debtor's rights

Virginia collection agencies will likely try whatever it takes to get money from a debtor. However, there are limits as to what they can do to get what they are owed. For instance, they are not allowed to contact a person before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. A debt collector is also barred from contacting a person while at work if the collector has been asked not to do so.

Family members cannot be contacted or provided information about another person's outstanding debt. An exception is made if the person a debt collector contacts is the debtor's spouse. If a debtor asks that a debt collector verify the debt, this must be done before any further collection actions are taken. Furthermore, individuals are entitled to know the amount of the debt as well as the name and address of the original creditor.

If a debtor obtains a lawyer, any future contact regarding an outstanding debt must be directed to that legal professional. Debtors are also allowed to ask that collectors not contact them any longer. However, this could result in a lawsuit or other action being taken against the person who is believed to owe money. Complaints about abusive or other potentially illegal debt collector conduct can be made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or to a state's attorney general.

Filing for bankruptcy may provide relief from overwhelming debt. While a bankruptcy case is ongoing, creditors typically cannot repossess property or foreclose on a loan. Furthermore, they generally cannot contact debtors by phone or mail. An attorney may be able to explain the process of filing for bankruptcy and the potential benefits of making such a decision.

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