At times you may run into difficulty keeping up with payments on debts. When payments are not made, creditors or debt collection companies may step up their collection efforts by mailing notices, making phone calls and even taking legal action.
We all have an obligation to pay valid debts. However, if debt collectors are violating the law, there are certain legal protections which may help you.
Contacts by Debt Collectors
Debt collectors cannot threaten to contact, or actually contact, your employer, relatives, or friends about your debt except in very limited circumstances. For example, the collector can confirm your employment or address. However, your debts are your business and a debt collector may not tell your family members or co-workers about your debts. If you have an attorney, you can require the debt collector to contact your attorney and stop contacting you personally.
If you receive unwelcome calls from debt collectors at home or at work, write a letter that clearly tells them not to call and why. It can include information such as that the calls could jeopardize your job, or that repeated calls are harassing you. The letter can also inform the debt collectors how they should reach you, such as only contacting you by mail, at your home address. Send the letter via certified mail and keep a copy for your records.
Even though debt collectors threaten garnishment, they cannot actually garnish your wages without first suing you in court and winning a judgment. A debtor can often pay-off or renegotiate the debt before a lawsuit is filed, or before an unpaid judgment has advanced to the garnishment stage.
Keep Written Documentation
Since valid debts should be paid, when the collector does call or write according to your instructions, it is important for you to respond. Instead of handling matters on the phone, we recommend dealing with debt collectors in writing as much as possible. Therefore any agreement for payment is in writing and you have a copy.
To File a Complaint about Debt Collection Practices
You can submit a consumer complaint online, or download and print a complaint form. For information on filing a consumer complaint, click here.
888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)
Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106