Hawaii Debt Collection Laws

A growing number of Americans are going into debt—some owing $10,000 to one or more creditors. While they are legally obligated to pay their debts in as timely a manner as possible, debtors are nonetheless entitled to certain legal protections. Like most states, Hawaii law generally adheres to the standards that are spelled out in the federal the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and adds a few stipulations of its own as well.

Debt Collection in Hawaii

Many companies that have outstanding debts that are unpaid over a long period of time turn these accounts over to a debt collection agency. This agency will then contact you via telephone, email, fax, or the post office. According to Hawaii law, this contact must stick to the facts (i.e., the debt owed), and the debt collection agent must not resort to threats, intimidation, or blackmail. For instance, they may not threaten to publicize your debt to other parties, such as the bank that holds your money. In addition, the debt collector must take into account the debtor's age: if the latter is 62 or over and the former uses threatening or defamatory language, Hawaii state law stipulates that the debt collector may be penalized further.

Hawaii Statute of Limitations

  • The statute of limitations for debts formed via liability, obligation, or contracts is six (6) years in Hawaii
  • The statute of limitation for breach of sale contract in Hawaii lasts for four (4) years
  • The statute of limitations for court award judgment debts stands at ten (10) years, unless extension requested in the courts
  • Statute of limitations periods cease once a debtor leaves the state or in the event the courts issue an injunction regarding a given debt obligation

Collections Practices and Rules for Hawaii

The state of Hawaii has a wide body of legal statutes and court precedents regarding the collections practices and rules for debt collectors attempting to collect on any debt in the state of Hawaii. These include outlining the legal and illegal collection methods collection companies may implement or have implemented illegally in the past at the expense of private consumers.

Legal Collections Actions

  • Legal debt collection actions in the state of Hawaii include contact via personal visit, letter, phone call, email or fax, if debtor does not request no further contact
  • Collectors may contact others regarding the whereabouts of a given debtor, but cannot reveal the nature of their inquiry as being debt related
  • Collectors can take legal action in the courts, requesting liens against individual debtors, however, these actions rarely occur
  • Debt collectors can offer negotiated settlements and other forms of rectification for debts, but no arrangement is agreed upon until an individual debtor acquiesces to the given terms

Illegal Collections Actions

  • Calling repeating in an attempt to harass or annoy, or contacting debtors at an unreasonable hour, unless otherwise agreed to by the debtor
  • Publicly disclosing debt obligations owed by debtors in order to cause embarrassment or shame
  • Use of abusive, threatening, or harassing language or terms during collections attempts
  • Contacting debtor at place of employment, if employer does not allow such contacts
  • Using contact methods to reach debtors that cause a given debtor any expenses, such as telephone usage costs
  • Implying or otherwise insinuating that legal action is going to be taken when a collection company has no intention to do so
  • Failing to identify one's self as a debt collection agency, as well as the nature of the debt, including details on the original creditor and proof of the validity of a debt

Laws for Debt Harassment in Hawaii

Harassment or abusive practices by debt collectors in the state of Hawaii are illegal. Noted above are numerous illegal practices that may constitute an illegal debt harassment or abusive action. Legal remedies are available for consumers being harassed by debt collectors if they contact an attorney. Once a debt collector has been informed of legal representation on behalf of a debtor, the collection company must only contact the attorney for future communications.

Hawaii Debt Negotiation and Settlement Rules

If you are contacted by a debt collection agent, it is important to verify that the charges are accurate. In addition, it is highly advisable that you document whom you talk to, and the time they called. Regarding the money owed, note whether or not the money they saw you owe is accurate. If the representative says you owe more than you actually do, you might choose to consult with an attorney who specializes in debt collection. Assuming that the actual debt is too large to pay, try to negotiate a payment plan with the representative. Once it is agreed upon, get the details in writing. This is important, since there has been known to be fraud in this area. Issues an attorney can help consumers with during the debt negotiation and settlement process, include:

  • Establishing the validity of a debt collector and the debt being collected
  • Negotiate settlements with debt collection companies, including establishing how debt settlement is going to be reported to credit agencies
  • Ensure the legality of any agreement between a debtor and a collection company, and if illegally formed or coerced, attempt to dismiss outstanding debt obligations on grounds of illegal collections practices

Help from a Hawaii Debt Collection Attorney

Even though Hawaii offers its citizens important legal protections from debt collectors, paying back large amounts of debt is still very complex. Furthermore, there is potential for fraud and abuse. For these reasons, it is highly advantageous to consult with a debt collection lawyer. Not only do they know the intricacies of the law; once you secure one, creditors must contact them directly to ensure you pay your debts. Though it may seem costly, procuring legal help from an experienced lawyer could you help to save even more money in the end.

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