Missouri Debt Collection Laws

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.

Debt Collection in Missouri

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.

Missouri Statute of Limitations

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:

  • The statute of limitations on contracts and promissory notes in the state of Missouri is generally ten (10) years, with potential to reduce to a period of five (5) years
  • The statute of limitations on open accounts is five (5) years
  • Sale of goods statute of limitations runs for no more than four (4) years following the date of the first breach of the contract

Collections Practices and Rules for Missouri

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.

Legal Collections 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.

Illegal Collections Actions

Missouri follows federal debt collections laws in prohibiting the following:

  • Continuing to contact consumers who have expressly requested no further contact by creditors, and contacting them at work if they have informed creditors their employers prohibit such calls
  • Intimidating, abusing, harassing, threatening, or using violence or profanity against consumers or those from whom they seek information about debtors
  • Using misleading information or misrepresenting themselves in such as way as to intimidate or threaten consumers
  • Using unethical or unfair financial practices for gain or acting in such a way as to cause the consumer to face additional charges

Laws for Debt Harassment in Missouri

Federal law prohibits debt collections agencies or agents from harassing consumers in any state, including Missouri.

Missouri Debt Negotiation and Settlement Rules

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:

  • Companies that provide debt settlement services, contacting creditors and negotiating lower, lump sum payments for those several months behind in their bills
  • Companies that negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates or reduced principal, again for those who are far behind in their payments

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.

Help from a Missouri Debt Collection Attorney

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.

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