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Robert N. Heath, P.A.
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'Tis the season for debt collection?

It may seem hard to believe, but Christmas is officially less than 10 days away. This means that over the coming week, people will be gathering with family and friends to exchange gifts, share a meal and, of course, enjoy one another's company.

As idyllic as the holidays can be, there's always the chance that this seasonal tranquility will see some unpleasant surprises and even unwanted intrusions. While this can mean a burnt turkey dinner or an unexpected visit from an estranged relative, it can also mean a call from debt collectors.

If the notion of a debt collector calling on Christmas, Chanukah or New Year's seems reprehensible, unbelievable or even illegal, you would only be absolutely correct on the first two points and possibly correct on the latter point.

While there's nothing illegal about a debt collector attempting to secure payment for a debt owed, they are nevertheless subject to certain restrictions under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as to how and when they can call consumers.

In general, debt collectors cannot make collection calls at times that are inconvenient, such as before 8 a.m. or anytime after 9 p.m. Furthermore, they cannot call make repeated phone calls in a single day, cannot contact you at work if you ask them to stop and must cease all contact if you send a written request asking as much (although the debt on which they are trying to collect will remain very much alive).

Even though there is no express exemption for holidays, some experts have nevertheless argued that the argument could certainly be made that calling during these times is inconvenient and therefore a violation of the FDCPA.

Regardless of the time of the year, consumers should always remember that they have options if a debt collector's conduct is clearly egregious and/or no debt is actually owed.

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