What Can Happen After You’ve Paid a Debt?
The first time a debt collector contacts you about a debt you have already paid, tell the debt collector that you have paid the debt. If the debt collector contacts you again, reach out to a North Carolina debt defense lawyer for the legal advice and services you may need.
What laws address debt collection activities? What are your rights if a debt collector harasses you about a debt that you have already paid? And what will a North Carolina debt collection attorney do on your behalf to stop that harassment and to set the record straight?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of debt collection activities and your rights, you will find the answers you may need, but if you are personally being harassed by a debt collector, you will also need to reach out to a debt collection lawyer as quickly as possible.
What Laws Govern Debt Collection?
A debt collector’s efforts to collect even more money from you on a debt that has already been settled and paid is a violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Depending on the details of your own case, other consumer protection laws may also apply.
For instance, it is a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act for a debt collector to report to a credit bureau that you owe a debt when you have – in fact – already paid that debt and no longer owe it.
When you settle and pay off a debt, the best way to prevent any future misunderstandings or mistakes is by saving and making copies of the receipts, the correspondence, and any related documents.
But even after you pay a debt, a dishonest debt collector could “sell your debt” to a different collection agency or to a debt buying company that may try to collect from you again. You should have indisputable, documented proof that you have settled and paid off a debt.
When Debt Collectors Are Wrong, What Steps Can You Take?
Even if you have paid and no longer owe the debt, the first step to take is speaking to the debt collector to confirm that you are actually the person being sought for the debt, and not another person with the same name or someone who previously lived at your address.
If the debt collector confirms that you are being sought for a debt (that you in fact do not owe), a letter from your North Carolina debt defense lawyer, with copies of the documents that prove you have settled and paid the debt, may be enough to stop the wrongful collection efforts.
If a debt collector violates your rights under the FDCPA, you may sue that debt collector for damages. If your lawsuit prevails, any compensation you receive will depend on the nature and extent of the violation. Your attorney will explain and help you consider your legal options.
How Are Debt Collection Practices Regulated?
When debt collectors call, know and exercise your rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it illegal for a debt collector to use deceptive or abusive debt collection practices.
Debt collectors may not call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. without your permission, and they can’t contact you at your job after being informed that you may not take personal calls there. Additionally under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors may not:
- make violent or harmful threats
- use obscene or profane language
- call you frequently and repeatedly
- distort or falsify the amount you owe (if in fact you owe anything)
- misrepresent who they are or represent
- falsely declare to be taking legal action against you
If a debt collector has violated any of your legal rights, ask a North Carolina debt collection attorney to give you personalized legal advice, explain how the law applies in your particular situation, and take the appropriate legal steps on your behalf.
Is Your Credit Report Accurate?
It’s essential for your credit report to be accurate, and if a debt collector has tried to collect on a debt that you have already settled and paid, that inaccuracy could turn up in a credit report. If that happens, you are entitled to a correction.
Send the credit reporting agency a dispute letter. Clearly and simply explain what the mistake is, and give the agency the right information. Include copies of any pertinent documents. Use certified mail so that you’ll know when your dispute letter has been received.
A dispute letter requires a credit reporting agency to investigate and fix the mistake on your credit report. If a credit reporting agency fails to fix that mistake promptly, your debt defense lawyer can take the steps to ensure that your credit report is corrected.
When Your Debt is Paid, What’s Next?
Settling and paying off a burdensome debt is usually a huge relief. You shouldn’t have to deal with harassing letters or phone calls any longer. If the debt was preventing you from obtaining a mortgage or a business loan, you can move that process forward.
But you need to ensure that the matter of your debt is completely closed. Following these simple recommendations could prevent you from being harassed over a debt that you have already paid:
- Confirm that your bank records show your payment was processed.
- Confirm that your credit report shows the debt was reported as paid.
- Make copies of all the pertinent documents and safely store the originals.
What Does Legal Help Cost?
The services of a debt collection attorney probably cost less than you think, and in some cases, may not cost you at all. Several consumer protection laws require a debt collector to pay your lawyer’s fee if you succeed against the debt collector with a claim in civil court.
If you’re being harassed about a debt that you have already paid, and if you can prove it, a North Carolina debt collection lawyer will put the law to work for you and stop the harassment, but the first step is yours – making the call to the right attorney.
Debt collection attorneys in North Carolina provide your first legal consultation without any cost or obligation. If you are being harassed about a debt that you do not owe – or if that happens to you in the future – promptly schedule a consultation to learn more about your rights and options.