Can a Creditor Come to Your House to Collect a Debt?

Can a Creditor Come to Your House to Collect a Debt?
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If you do not pay a debt you owe, your creditor will either initiate collection activity against you or hire a collection agency to do so. Collection activity, however, is not limited to letters and telephone calls. Debt collectors have the legal right to visit your home or place of business in person to recover an unpaid debt provided they adhere to federal and state debt collection regulations when doing so.

Collecting in Person

While creditors have the right to collect debts in person, few actually do. It’s cost-prohibitive for major creditors, such as credit card companies, to send a representative to each debtor’s home to inquire about his debts in person. If you owe a delinquent debt to a local creditor, the local creditor is much more likely to visit you at home than large creditors with hundreds or even thousands of accounts on the books.

Collection Threats

Unethical debt collection agents have been known to threaten noncompliant debtors with an unpleasant house call. Doing so, however, is against federal law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates what debt collectors can and cannot legally do. The FDCPA states that collection agents cannot make threats that the company cannot carry out or does not actually intend to carry out.

Although the FDCPA does not apply to original creditors, only third-party collectors, some states, such as Pennsylvania and California, have modified the FDCPA at the state level to include original creditors – granting consumers the same protection from their original creditors that they possess from collection agencies.

Property Seizure

If your creditor shows up at your home to repossess property you presented as collateral for the original debt and the property is located within your home, she can proceed if you voluntarily surrender the property. If you do not surrender the property, the creditor has little choice but to return with law enforcement officials. A creditor cannot break into your home to collect a debt nor can a creditor come to your home and physically assault you or your family members.

Debt Validation Period

Although the FDCPA does not prohibit collectors from visiting your home, it does prohibit collection activity during the validation period. If you requested a debt validation from a third-party collector, the collector must stop all collection activity until sending you proof of the debt. Any debt collector who visits your home during this validation period violates the FDCPA. You have the legal right to file a lawsuit against any company that violates federal debt collection laws.