Help With the Fair Debt Collection Act

Help With the Fair Debt Collection Act

Our reference desk highlights help for patrons seeking information to stop harrassing creditors.

Many time librarians are put in difficult positions. Patrons will ask for information and assistance on a variety of topics. Librarians must walk a fine line between providing information and providing advice. Some librarians have been sued for giving wrong advice, information, or information that wasn't helpful.

The best action is to have available information sources for your patrons. You provide the information and the patron must make an informed decision. Some librarians have put together bibliographies and webliographies that they have available.

One volitale topic is debt collection. Some patrons will find themselves behind in their bills and start receiving harrassing phone calls. Others will receive debt collection letters for debts they do not owe. They need basic information about how to legally handle these situations. The librarian cannot offer legal advice. The librarian can point their patrons to this helpful site:

Fair Debt focuses on the Fair Debt Collection Act, the rights of the collector, and the rights of the individual. It doesn't make outlandish claims that it will make any legally owed debts disappear. It does offer real information and sample letters. For example:

Can debt collectors demand payment or take legal action during the thirty (30) day period for disputing a debt?

YES! Section 809(b) permits collectors to demand payment or take legal action during the thirty-day period for disputing a debt when the consumer has not notified the collection agency in writing that the debt is disputed.

The key phrase is "in writing." The site has several sample letters for writing to debt collectors. It also explains exactly how to keep records when disputing a debt.

Other information deals with bankruptcy, the difference between debt consolidation and debt management, foreclosure, etc. There is a Debt/Credit Forum so that readers can ask specific questions. An interesting feature is the credit card calculator.

By refering patrons to this site, among other print information, you can provide information without falling into the trap of offering legal advice. You serve your patrons by empowering them with knowledge.

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This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.