8 Debt Collection Tips From The NYC Department Of Consumer Affairs

October 11, 2018

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced a settlement with Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC, a licensed debt collection agency that sent illegal collection letters to tens of thousands of New Yorkers from Harlem to Hollis.

With that announcement DCA offered preventative tips for consumers below:

Tips for Consumers:

1. Always make sure the debt collector is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

Debt collection agencies must include their DCA license number in all letters sent to you. To verify if a debt collection agency is licensed, call 311 or search DCA’s Instant License

Check, available online at nyc.gov/dca

2. Never ignore a debt collector, even if you do not recognize the debt.

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If you do not recognize the debt, or question whether the debt is legitimate, write a letter to the debt collection company asking for verification of the debt within 30 days of receipt of the letter from the debt collection agency.

3. Check that the debt collection agency provided the required information.

By law, debt collection agencies must provide the following information in all communications to you:

    • The name of the debt collection agency;
    • The name of the original creditor;
    • The amount of the debt;
    • And a call-back number to a phone that is answered by a live person and the name of that person. If your call is routed from the agency’s main telephone line, the live person qualified to handle your questions must answer the call within 60 seconds.

4. Make sure the debt collector sends you validation of the debt especially if the first collection attempt is by phone.

Validation must include:

    • The name of the original creditor;
    • The amount of the debt;
    • And information about your right to dispute the debt.

The debt collection agency must send you validation within five (5) days of contacting you.

5. Confirm all agreements to resolve a debt in writing.

6. Check how old the debt is.

If the statute of limitations on the debt is expired, the collector must disclose this information to you, along with information about your legal rights. The statute of limitations is the period of time that a creditor or collector can sue you in court to collect the debt. The statute of limitations is generally six years on credit card debt.

7. A debt collection agency may not make false statements, including:

  • Claim that it represents a government agency, such as a marshal, sheriff, or District Attorney’s Office;
  • Threaten that you will be arrested;
  • Threaten that it will report you to immigration authorities;
  • Claim that you have committed a crime;
  • Threaten that it will have you evicted, take or garnish your wages;
  • Or take the money from your bank account, or take your personal belongings without first obtaining a judgment against you in court.

8. A debt collection agency may not:

  • Engage in acts of violence, threats of violence, or obscene language;
  • Claim the debt owed is greater than it is;
  • Claim you owe the debt when you do not;
  • Claim you can be sued if the statute of limitations expired;
  • Call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM or more than twice a week if the collector has made contact with you;
  • Advertise a debt or reveal it to anyone, including family members and neighbors;
  • Or contact your employer, family, friends, and neighbors for any reason other than to locate you. Collectors cannot discuss the alleged debt with anyone other than you.

For more information go to dca.nyc.gov

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