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How Tennesseans can respond to debt collector contact

In today's struggling economy it is not uncommon for an individual to be struggling with personal debt. In fact, one out of every seven individuals is currently being pursued by a debt collector. Medical debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, and student loan debt can all mount, and before one knows it he or she is overdue on debt and is being harassed by creditors. In some instances, overwhelming debt can even lead to wage garnishment. However, certain protections are in place to protect consumers from debt collectors, and Tennessee residents should take note.

First, debtors should know that debt collectors are required to issue a validation notice within five days of initial contact. These notices are meant to clarify what the debtor owes, who it is owed to and the process for challenging the debt. If the debtor does challenge the debt, then he or she must dispute it in writing within 30 days.

Second, third party creditors are not allowed to harass debtors. If an individual starts receiving threatening or late-at-night calls, then he or she should report it to the Consumer Protection Bureau or the state attorney general's office. It is important to note, however, that companies that collect their own debt, like certain banks and hospitals, do not have to abide by these non-harassment rules and can constantly contact a debtor whenever they want.

Third, debtors should be sure not to ignore lawsuit notices. Doing so could lead to wage garnishment and the dire financial circumstances that follow. Those who receive these notices should consider contacting a bankruptcy attorney who may be able to help them.

Bankruptcy is a real option for individuals to stop creditor harassment, stop wage garnishment, and liquidate debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in particular, allows individuals to achieve the debt relief and the fresh financial start they deserve by selling all assets that are not exempt, using the proceeds to pay creditors, then eliminating any remaining debt. Hopefully then an individual who once faced financial challenges can find the financial stability he or she needs to move on with a healthy and happy life.

Source: The New York Times, "Dealing With Debt Collectors," Ann Carrns, May 20, 2014

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Mark T. Young & Associates
2895 Northpoint Blvd.
Hixson, TN 37343

Toll Free: 888-376-0282
Phone: 423-933-1606
Fax: 423-877-0363
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