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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.