Calls from debt collectors may be one of the more stressful elements for Virginia consumers who are overwhelmed by their obligations. However, debt collectors are required to abide by certain laws regarding when they contact people and who they are able to contact.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers what is permitted regarding medical bills, auto loans, credit card debts, and a few other types of obligations. The federal law applies only to debt collection companies and not to the original creditor. These companies are prohibited from contacting people at work if they request not to be contacted there. They cannot contact people by phone between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. and cannot inform friends and family about the debt with the exception of a spouse. In general, they are prohibited from threatening or harassing people.
If collectors know the debtor is represented by legal counsel, they can only contact the attorney. Whether or not there is an attorney, a debtor can contact collectors in writing and request that they cease contact, and collectors must do so. Collectors can only make subsequent contact to say that they will not do so again or to inform the debtor about a lawsuit or other new action.
Filing for bankruptcy will put an immediate stop to any creditor action, including lawsuits. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can put a stop to foreclosure and may allow a person to keep the home. It is necessary for the debtor in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to work out a payment plan over a period of three or five years. While there may be other options for debt relief, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can allow a person to keep some assets, restructure debt and get a fresh start.