If you live in Arizona and have debt that is being collected by a creditor, it’s important to understand your rights under the law. This article should not be consider legal advice. We recommend getting legal advice from proper legal counsel. In this blog post, we’ll give a brief overview of some of the key provisions of Arizona’s debt collection laws.
Why is it Important to Understand My Rights Regarding Debt Collection?
If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to make your monthly payments on time, you may be contacted by debt collectors. While debt collection can be a scary and stressful experience, it is important to understand your rights as a consumer so that you can protect yourself from unfair treatment. Below is a brief overview of debt collection and your rights under the law.
What is Debt Collection?
Debt collection is the process of pursuing payments on owed debts. Collection efforts can include contacting the debtor by phone, mail, or in person in order to arrange for payment. In some cases, debt collectors may also hire a third-party collection agency to pursue the debt.
What Are Your Rights Under the Law?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a United States federal law that protects consumers from unfair or abusive debt collection practices. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from using threatening or obscene language, making repeated phone calls, disclosing information about the debt to third parties, or taking any action that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment. Additionally, the FDCPA requires that debt collection companies notify consumers of their rights under the law and provide accurate information about the amount of money owed.
If you believe that a debt collector has violated your rights under the FDCPA, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Common Violations of the FDCPA
1. Attempting to collect more than you actually owe: One of the most common violations of the FDCPA is when a debt collector tries to collect more money from you than you actually owe. This might happen if they miscalculate the interest owed on the debt or if they apply payments incorrectly. It can also happen if the debt has been sold to multiple collection agencies and each one insists that you still owe them money. In any case, you have the right to dispute the amount that is being demanded from you.
2. Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.: Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not permitted to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you have given them express permission to do so outside of those hours. If they do call during those times, it is considered harassment and you have the right to file a complaint against them.
3. Contacting you at work: If a debt collector knows that your employer does not allow personal calls at work, they are not permitted to contact you there anyway. In addition, even if your employer does allow personal calls, the debt collector is not allowed to contact you at work if they know that it would be inconvenient for you (for example, if it would interfere with your job performance).
4. Using offensive language: Debt collectors are prohibited from using any language that could be considered offensive when communicating with you about your consumer debt. This includes swearing, name-calling, and making threats or obscene comments. If a debt collector uses language like this when contacting you, it is considered harassment and you have the legal right to file a complaint against them.
5. Threatening legal action: In many cases, debt collectors will threaten to sue you or have your wages garnished if you don’t pay your debts. However, in most cases, they do not actually intend to follow through on these threats because doing so would be too costly and time-consuming. If a debt collector threatens legal action against you without having any intention of following through, it is considered an unfair practice and you can take legal action against them.
What Should You Do If You Are Contacted By a Debt Collector?
If you are contacted by a debt collector, the best course of action is to try and come to an agreement on a repayment plan. If you are unable to do this, you have the right to request that the collector cease communication with you. Once you have done this in writing, the collector is only allowed to contact you again in order to provide information about taking specific legal action against you or to notify you that they are ceasing communication altogether. You may be contacted by collection attorneys with a demand letter for payment of money owed before legal process begins.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Debt Collection in Arizona?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time creditors have to sue debtors for unpaid debts. For Arizona residents, the statute of limitations for most types of debt is six years. This means that if you have unpaid credit card debt, medical bills, or other types of debt, creditors have six years from the date of your last payment to sue you. In Arizona, most credit cards are considered written contract debt. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. For example, the statute of limitations for federal student loans is 20 years.
Debt can include personal property, medical debt, car loans, medical debt, and more. Failure to pay the agreed-to minimum monthly payment can damage your credit report.
However, the creditor can still contact you to try to collect payment and may report the unpaid debt to the credit bureaus. You could agree to a debt settlement, but this too could have a negative impact to your credit file.
What Are My Rights Under Arizona Debt Collection Laws?
Debt collectors must follow certain rules when trying to collect a debt from you. These rules are set by state and federal law. State laws are in addition to your protection under FDCPA. Under Arizona debt collection laws, debt collectors are not allowed to:
- Contact you before 8 am or after 9 pm
- Call you at work if they know your employer does not approve
- Lie about who they are or what they want
- Threaten violence
- Use obscene language
- Make repeated calls to annoy you
Debt collection agencies are also prohibited from disclosing your debt to anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney. And if you ask them to stop contacting you, they must do so except to notify you, usually a written notice, that they are taking specific actions such as filing a lawsuit.
If you are sued by a creditor for unpaid debt, you have the right to appear in court and defend yourself. If the court finds in favor of the creditor, they can order you to pay the amount of debt plus interest, court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and costs. The court may also order wage garnishment which would allow the creditor to take a portion of your paycheck directly from your employer until the consumer debt is paid off. Alternatively, the court may order bank account garnishment which would allow them to take money out of your bank account to pay off the debt. If neither of these options are possible or would create undue hardship, the court may allow you to set up a payment plan.
Creditors are not allowed to use abusive or harassing tactics when collecting debts from consumers. This includes making repeated phone calls or contacts beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances, contacting you at odd hours, communicating with you after being asked to stop, threatening physical violence or harm, or using obscene language.
You have the right to dispute any debts that are being collected against you. If you believe that a debt is not yours, or if you think that the amount being requested is incorrect, you can send a written dispute letter to the creditor asking them provide evidence verifying the debt and/or amount owed.
If you are having difficulty dealing with creditors or collection agencies and would like help understanding your rights under Arizona law, please contact our office for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Can Debt Collectors Garnish My Wages in Arizona?
If a debt collector gets a court order, they can garnish your wages in the state of Arizona. The amount they can garnish depends on how much money you make and how many dependents you have. For example, if your take-home pay is $500 per week and you have two dependents, a creditor can garnish $104 per week—or 20% of your disposable income.
Can Debt Collectors Place a Property Lien Against My House?
The answer is no—debt collectors cannot create property liens against borrowers’ homes. However, creditors can file liens if borrowers fail to repay their debts according to the terms of their agreement. So, if you’re behind on your mortgage payments, your lender could file a property lien as a way to recoup the money you owe them. But a debt collector cannot do this—regardless of what they may tell you on the phone.
A property lien is a legal claim filed against your home by someone to whom you owe money. The lien gives the creditor the right to sell your home in order to receive payment for the outstanding debt. So, if you’re behind on your mortgage payments, your lender could file a property lien against your home as a way to repay the debt.
What Should I Do If a Debt Collector Violates My Rights?
If a debt collector violates your rights under state or federal law, you can take legal action against them. You may be able to recover damages such as lost wages and legal fees. You should speak with an attorney to discuss your options and whether taking legal action is right for you.
It’s important to understand your rights if you are being contacted by creditors for unpaid debt in Arizona. Remember that most types of debt have a six-year statute of limitations, so if your debt is older than that creditors cannot sue you even though they can continue to try to collect payment from you through other methods.