Past due or unpaid debts are a painful fact of life for more people than ever these days. The sad result is that many of those debts are referred or sold to collection agencies and collection agents who often spare no expense to collect that money. However, the federal government has enacted laws to protect consumers from unfair collection practices which include, primarily, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Many states also include laws to strengthen or expand on those laws. Yet it may be wise for consumers to contact a debt settlement attorney to help them remedy their unpaid debts before they reach a collection agency.
Missouri has enacted no state laws expanding or widening the protections for consumers in the area of debt collection, nor do they require specific licenses for collection agents or agencies. However, consumers have the option to report any abuses of federal laws to their state Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission for remedies.
In the state of Missouri, debt obligations formed by contracts and other methods legally expires after a given period of time noted in the state debt collection statutes, known as the statute of limitations period. In the state of Missouri, debt obligations and their respective statute of limitations period include:
There are no laws specifically written within the state of Missouri for debt collection protection; however, federal laws apply concerning legal and illegal collection actions.
Collection agencies and agents may contact consumers by phone, mail, fax, telegram, and email; however, they must do so within appropriate hours, generally between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., unless the consumer expressly permits contact at other times.
Missouri follows federal debt collections laws in prohibiting the following:
Federal law prohibits debt collections agencies or agents from harassing consumers in any state, including Missouri.
There are other agencies and companies that can assist those who are unable to keep up with bill payments and past due notices. These, too, must follow fair practices and ethical standards; however, not all of them do so. It is important for those who are seeking help from these companies to have an attorney examine any contracts carefully and help them determine if the fees and practices are appropriate. Those concerns include:
Many of these companies have poor track records and high fees, so an attorney should also help determine how reliable such a company is and monitor their promised efforts to appropriately update credit reports.
Clearly, debt reduction or settlements are complex matters and open consumers to challenges that the nonprofessionals may not be able to discern or navigate. Debt settlement attorneys have experience in these matters and can provide the guidance individuals need to protect themselves and their credit scores from predators that could damage them for years to come.