Bad Credit: Your Rights

You are responsible for your debts. If you fall behind in paying your creditors, or if an error is made on your account, you may be contacted by a debt collector. A debt collector is any person, other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others, including lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis. You have the right to be treated fairly by debt collectors.

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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies to personal, family, and household debts. This includes money you owe for the purchase of a car, for medical care, or for charge accounts. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices while collecting these debts.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:
  • Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves.
  • Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you.
  • Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime.
  • Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone.
  • Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to do so in writing.
  • For details, see Fair Debt Collection at ftc.gov/credit.

Solving Your Credit Problems
Your credit report can influence your purchasing power, as well as your opportunity to get a job, rent or buy an apartment or a house, and buy insurance. When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because youve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.