What Should You Do When You Receive a Call About a Debt That’s Not Yours?

Americans are dealing with enough debt right now as
bankruptcy filings continue growing even post-pandemic. The overwhelming weight of debt is a challenge to anyone, and this problem is exacerbated in situations where a debt that doesn’t even belong to you is claimed.

The problem in this scenario is many people don’t know what to do when they’re contacted about a debt that’s not theirs and end up carrying the burden into bankruptcy. At Hedtke Law Group, we support clients in West Covina, Upland, and Moreno Valley through the bankruptcy process and provide solutions to avoid pulling that lever in the first place. It’s well worth it for you to familiarize yourself with your rights if a debt collector contacts you.

What May a Debt Collector Not Do in Any Case?

Whether or not you have debt is irrelevant to basic protections against debt collectors and their legal ability to attempt to contact you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that is intended to prevent debt collectors from getting away with the following: 

  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Continuing to contact you at work after you request that they stop
  • Notifying friends, family, or co-workers over the phone or by mail about your alleged debt
  • Impersonating a law enforcement agency or other entity other than a third-party debt collector
  • Using threatening or profane language
  • Not identifying themselves as a debt-collection agency, especially when you have asked for identification
  • Threatening to seize property or other assets without actually having the authority to do so.

We are not a consumer protection firm, but we do believe in people’s rights and will assist you when a debt, yours or not, becomes overwhelming. If a debt collector (or someone who seems to be a debt collector) contacts you and does not abide by those rules, you should file a complaint with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as soon as you are able.

I Really Do Not Owe the Debt They Are Saying I Owe. Now What?

Whether the debt collector has contacted you or filed a lawsuit, you need to act quickly. You only have a certain amount of days to answer a debt collector’s lawsuit. Not answering the lawsuit in time means the collector will probably seek a default judgment against you, which means a judge is likely to rule in favor of the collector simply because you did not respond.

In fact, that’s what most debt collection agencies count on. They make money off of consumers getting frightened over the lawsuit or not showing up to court. Other times, the collector does not actually have the documentation to support their claims that a particular consumer owes the debt. 

If the debt collector has only contacted you, we recommend at least writing a letter requesting the collector’s proof that you owe money. You should also be pulling your credit report and bank statements to support your position. Generally speaking, the more information you send in your initial letter back to the debt collector, the stronger your position will be. Avoid saying anything that would indicate you acknowledge the debt is yours.

Debt Pushing You to Bankruptcy? Contact Hedtke Law Group

The purpose of this article is to help the people of West Covina, Upland, and Moreno Valley understand the practices and tactics debt collectors apply to pressure unsuspecting individuals. We want to protect you through the process and help you understand your options if bankruptcy is on the table. Contact our team if you need a bankruptcy attorney in Moreno Valley.