Borrowers are legally required to pay their debts and if they do not do so, their creditors have a right to continue to pursue payment, either through their own efforts or by assigning that debt to a collection agency. However, collection agencies are subject to federal laws regulating their collection activities. Those laws include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These laws apply throughout the country, although some states have added local statutes to expand these protections. Anyone who is facing financial challenges should consult with an attorney to ensure that debt collectors do not abuse their rights or to help find alternatives to reduce debt prior to being assigned to collection agencies.
Debt Collection in Ohio
Ohio relies on federal debt collection statutes to protect their citizens from harassment and abuses from debt collection agencies. Anyone who has been victimized by illegal harassment should contact the office of the Attorney General to find relief.
Ohio Statute of Limitations
- The statute of limitations in Ohio for lawsuits concerning non-payment of oral agreements is 6 years
- Written contracts and promissory note lawsuits carry a statute of limitations of 15 years
- Creditors and debt collectors may continue to contact the consumer by any legal means even after the statute of limitations on lawsuits has run out
Collections Practices and Rules for Ohio
Ohio’s protections for consumers from debt collection agencies are generally in keeping with federal statutes in this area.
Legal Collections Actions
Overdue bills and debts can be legally pursued by creditors and debt collectors using any legal or common means in the state of Ohio, including phone, mail, and fax. If those methods fail, the creditor may take the debtor to court if they believe there are enough assets to provide payment through that method.
Illegal Collections Actions
- Pursuing contact with the debtor after they have requested such contact to stop or after the debt collector has been informed that the consumer is represented by an attorney
- Making contact by repeated phone calls at inconvenient times and in inappropriate places without permission from the borrower
- Harassing, abusing, threatening with inappropriate or violent action, and profanity
- Making contact with the borrower at their workplace after learning that such contact is prohibited by the employer
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose information about the debt status of the borrower to anyone other than the borrower
- Using deceitful methods or claims, or misrepresenting themselves to the borrower for purposes of intimidation
Laws for Debt Harassment in Ohio
Ohio has laws against harassment as do the federal statutes protecting borrowers from harsh debt collection practices.
Ohio Debt Negotiation and Settlement Rules
There are processes by which a borrower who is seriously behind in payments may be able to negotiate to reduce their debt. These processes are usually performed by lawyers or companies experienced in this field. However, there are illegitimate companies who prey on unsuspecting borrowers making false promises to help. Such false promises are considered fraud and if there is sufficient evidence of these actions, a victim may be able to take the perpetrator to court. It is important to avoid those who:
- Charge high up-front fees
- Advise consumers to break off contact with creditors and leave all such contact to them
- Fail to provide regular, updated, and accurate credit reports
- Are unable to help negotiate with creditors holding secured debts for forbearance and hardship requests
- Incur tax bills for reduced bill payments classified as income
An attorney can examine contracts for these services and advise consumers about the wisdom and legitimacy of the companies who write them. In addition, an attorney can provide all these services and more, in keeping with federal and state laws.
Help from an Ohio Debt Collection Attorney
Anyone finding themselves facing high debt payments and abusive debt collectors has the right to be free from harassment and find help for their financial difficulties. A debt settlement attorney can help in both those areas, often for a contingency fee, providing the legal and financial expertise to protect consumers who are caught in a complex and confusing situation.