Cumberland Times-News

Letters

December 7, 2013

Be careful with your debts

Consumers often get caught up in the spirit of giving this time of year, and it is easy to just buy one more gift for a loved one.

The best way to avoid going into debt during the holidays is to set a budget and then stick with it. Before going out to the stores, make a list of who you want to buy for and what you want to buy. If you want to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase, make sure it falls within your budget.

For consumers who already have debt problems, remember that debt collectors, including original creditors under West Virginia law, may not:

• Contact you repeatedly by phone with the intent to abuse or harass you.

• Use obscene or threatening language with consumers.

• Tell others how much debt you have, either verbally or in writing.

• Contact you at work if you or your employer has told them not to.

• Refuse or fail to identify themselves and for whom they work.

• Threaten to add additional fees, seize property or file criminal charges for failure to pay within a set timeframe.

• Threaten physical harm if you do not pay a debt.

• Contact you if you have a lawyer.

Collection agencies must adhere to the following additional rules as part of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

• Calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. are prohibited.

• Debt collectors must send a written notice stating the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and a statement that the debtor has 30 days to dispute the debt, in writing.

• If the debt collection agency receives a written dispute letter from the consumer within the 30 day period, the debt collector must send verification of the debt to the alleged debtor. The collector may not attempt to collect the alleged debt until that proof is sent.

• Any and all communications, including telephone calls and letters, must immediately stop once a debt collector receives a “cease and desist” letter from you. Cease and desist letters are effective once received by the collection agency.

They can be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to establish a “paper trail.” The “cease and desist” letter has no effect if the collector is the original creditor.

• Debt collectors must state in the initial communication “This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.”

In subsequent communications the collector must disclose it is a debt collector. Debt collectors may not use fictitious company names, but rather must use the true company name.

• Once a collector is told an individual is represented by an attorney all conversations, messages, letters or any other communication must immediately stop with the consumer by the collection agency.

Under West Virginia law, original creditors, not just collection agencies, also must stop contacting the debtor when it appears the debtor is represented by a lawyer and the lawyer’s name and address is known or could be easily ascertained.

Our office regularly gets complaints from consumers who say they are being harassed by debt collectors.

While people should always pay what they owe, collectors also must abide by the law and treat citizens with respect. Most consumers in West Virginia who are having financial trouble want to pay their debts and avoid new debts.

If you feel as though you are being harassed by a debt collector, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808.

Patrick Morrissey

Attorney General of West Virginia

1
Text Only
Letters
  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Celebrate Earth Day every day: Reduce, reuse and recycle

    April 1 marked the beginning of April Envi- ronmental Education Month in Maryland — and with Earth Day coming up on April 22, Maryland has much to celebrate.

    April 20, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • Which approach to the school makes sense?

    What exactly is the long-range plan, according to the Allegany County Commissioners?
    I’ve read in the Cumberland Times-News that the current County Commissioners intend to spend $9 million to construct a new high school.

    April 16, 2014

  • H.O.G. Rally coming to Cumberland in June

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Francine Kraft and I am the Maryland/Delaware State H.O.G. Rally Coordinator for 2014.
    With a team of seven others, we have put together a rally for June 19-22 to be held in Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Access to trout ponds hard for those who have trouble walking

    I took my 5-year-old grandson Easton, who lives in Cumberland, to the Evitts Creek three ponds on March 31, the day it was stocked with trout.He had the joy and excitement of catching his first trout and two more. I have a Maryland fishing license and trout stamp.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wait long enough; they will die off without being cared for

    The letter to the editor of April 14 (“Military veterans have few friends in Washington, D.C.”),  I am afraid, hit the nail on the head — sort of — about this next set of returning veterans.

    April 16, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads