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I have a lot of credit card debt. What are my rights as a debtor?

Economic struggles can cause Tennessee consumers to experience financial challenges. Reduced income can make it difficult to stay on top of credit card payments. This can lead to creditor harassment, which cannot only be embarrassing, but annoying as well. Creditors may try to do some shady things - such as making threats or calling in the middle of the night - but despite your situation, you do have rights as a debtor. There are some things creditors can and cannot do to get you to pay your credit card debt.

First of all, you should not be subject to phone calls at all hours of the day. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors can only make calls between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Also, interest can be added to the debt if the state allows it, but there is a maximum amount that can be charged. You should know that you are not obligated to discuss your debt with a creditor. It may help the situation if you do, however, but it's not required.

There are some actions that are not allowed at all. For examples, threats and profanity are not tolerated. Debt collectors should not tell you they will sell your assets, garnish wages or have you arrested. The debt collector cannot lie to convince you to pay the debt. He or she must be honest about the amount of money you owe and cannot claim to be an attorney or someone other than a debt collector. A debt collector cannot force you to make a payment through a wire service, like Western Union. You have the right to send a payment by mail or over the phone.

Getting out of debt is difficult but it is possible. It is important to make sure your rights are protected while you struggle to repay debts. Debt collectors can be sued for violating the law.

Source: FindLaw, "FAQs: How to Deal with Debt Collection Agencies," accessed May 17, 2015

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