Debt collection can be a stressful and overwhelming process for both debtors and creditors. In Missouri, there are several laws and regulations in place to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices. This article will explore Missouri’s debt collection laws, including how they protect consumers, what collectors can and cannot do, and what to do if you are being harassed by a debt collector, you can also compare bankruptcy vs debt settlement.
What Are Debt Collection Laws?
Debt collection laws are state and federal regulations that govern how creditors and debt collectors can collect debts from consumers. These laws are designed to protect consumers from abusive, harassing, or deceptive debt collection practices.
In Missouri, the primary law governing debt collection is the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The MMPA prohibits unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent acts by debt collectors and provides remedies for consumers who have been harmed by these practices.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that also provides protection for consumers against abusive debt collection practices. The FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or entity.
What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do in Missouri
Debt collectors in Missouri must comply with several regulations when attempting to collect debts from consumers. These regulations are meant to prevent abusive or harassing debt collection practices. Here are some examples of what debt collectors can and cannot do under Missouri law:
Debt collectors cannot call you at unreasonable times
Under Missouri law, debt collectors cannot call you before 8 am or after 9 pm, unless you give them permission to do so. Additionally, debt collectors cannot call you repeatedly or harass you with continuous calls.
Debt collectors cannot use threatening or abusive language
Debt collectors are prohibited from using language that is abusive, obscene, or profane when communicating with debtors. They also cannot threaten to take actions that are illegal or that they have no legal right to take.
Debt collectors cannot misrepresent the amount of debt owed
Debt collectors must provide accurate information about the amount of debt owed, including interest and fees. They cannot misrepresent the amount owed or add unauthorized fees or charges to the debt.
Debt collectors cannot contact third parties about your debt
Debt collectors cannot contact third parties, such as friends, family members, or employers, about your debt, except to obtain your contact information. Additionally, they cannot disclose information about your debt to anyone other than you or your attorney.
Debt collectors cannot threaten legal action unless they intend to take it
Debt collectors cannot threaten legal action unless they actually intend to take legal action. They also cannot threaten to garnish wages, seize property, or take other actions that are not legally allowed.
What to Do If You Are Being Harassed by a Debt Collector
If you are being harassed by a debt collector in Missouri, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some examples:
Request written verification of the debt
Under Missouri law, debt collectors must provide written verification of the debt within five days of contacting you. If you do not receive this verification, you can request it in writing.
Keep careful records of all communication
Keep a record of all communication with debt collectors, including phone calls, letters, and emails. This can be helpful if you need to file a complaint or take legal action.
Know your rights
Familiarize yourself with the debt collection laws in Missouri and the protections they provide. This can help you understand what debt collectors can and cannot do and how to respond if you are being harassed.
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Contact an attorney
If you believe that a debt collector has violated the law, you may want to contact an attorney. An attorney can advise you on your legal rights and options and help you take legal action if necessary.
In, Missouri’s debt collection laws provide important protections for consumers against abusive and harassing debt collection practices. Debt collectors in Missouri must comply with regulations that prohibit them from using threatening or abusive language, contacting third parties about their debt, and misrepresenting the amount of debt owed. Additionally, debt collectors cannot threaten legal action unless they intend to take it.
If you are being harassed by a debt collector, it is important to know your rights and take steps to protect yourself. By requesting written verification of the debt, keeping records of communication, and seeking legal advice if necessary, you can protect yourself from abuse and harassment by debt collectors.
What is the statute of limitations for debt collection in Missouri?
The statute of limitations for debt collection in Missouri is five years for most types of debt.
Can debt collectors in Missouri garnish wages?
Yes, debt collectors in Missouri can garnish up to 25% of a debtor’s disposable earnings.
Is there a limit on the amount of interest that can be charged on a debt in Missouri?
Yes, the maximum interest rate that can be charged on debt in Missouri is 9% per year.
Are there any exemptions from debt collection in Missouri?
Yes, there are certain exemptions from debt collection in Missouri, such as Social Security benefits and disability payments.
Can debt collectors in Missouri contact a debtor’s employer or family members?
Yes, debt collectors in Missouri can contact a debtor’s employer or family members, but only to obtain location information.
Can debt collectors in Missouri threaten legal action if they do not intend to take legal action?
No, debt collectors in Missouri cannot threaten legal action if they do not intend to take legal action.
Are there any restrictions on the time of day that debt collectors in Missouri can contact debtors?
Yes, debt collectors in Missouri cannot contact debtors outside of the hours of 8am to 9pm.
Can debt collectors in Missouri charge additional fees or expenses on top of the original debt?
Yes, debt collectors in Missouri can charge additional fees and expenses, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees, if they are allowed by the original contract or by law.
Is it legal for debt collectors in Missouri to harass or threaten debtors?
No, debt collectors in Missouri cannot harass, threaten, or use abusive language towards debtors.
Can debt collectors in Missouri continue to collect on a debt after the statute of limitations has expired?
Yes, debt collectors in Missouri can still attempt to collect on a debt after the statute of limitations has expired, but they cannot file a lawsuit to collect on the debt.
- Debt Collection: The process of attempting to recover money owed by individuals or businesses who have failed to make payments on time.
- Missouri Debt Collection Laws: The set of rules and regulations that govern debt collection activities in the state of Missouri.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): A federal law that sets standards for debt collection and prohibits abusive, deceptive, and unfair practices.
- Consumer Protection Division: A division of the Missouri Attorney General’s office that is responsible for protecting consumers from fraud, scams, and unfair business practices.
- Statute of Limitations: The time period within which a creditor can sue a debtor for an unpaid debt.
- Garnishment: A legal process that allows creditors to collect money from a debtor’s wages or bank account to pay off a debt.
- Wage Garnishment: A form of garnishment that allows creditors to collect a portion of a debtor’s wages to pay off a debt.
- Bank Garnishment: A form of garnishment that allows creditors to collect money from a debtor’s bank account to pay off a debt.
- Exemption Laws: Laws that protect certain assets from being seized by creditors, such as a debtor’s primary residence, personal property, and retirement accounts.
- Debt Validation: The process of requesting proof from a debt collector that a debt is valid and that the amount owed is accurate.
- Cease and Desist Letter: A letter that demands that a debt collector stop all communication with a debtor.
- Debt Settlement: A process in which a debtor negotiates with a creditor to pay off a debt for less than the full amount owed.
- Debt Consolidation: A process in which a debtor combines multiple debts into one payment to simplify their finances.
- Credit Counseling: A service that helps debtors develop a plan to manage their debt and improve their credit score.
- Bankruptcy: A legal process that allows debtors to discharge most or all of their debts and start fresh financially.
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy that involves liquidating a debtor’s assets to pay off their debts.
- Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy that involves reorganizing a debtor’s debts and creating a repayment plan.
- Debt Relief Company: A company that offers services to help debtors manage their debts, such as debt settlement or debt consolidation.
- Default Judgment: A judgment entered against a debtor who fails to respond to a lawsuit or court summons.
- Collection Agency: A company that specializes in collecting unpaid debts on behalf of creditors.