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Debt Collection Laws in Alaska

Sarah Edwards | July 25, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Harris is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Alaska state law and federal law protect consumers from unfair debt collection methods. More specifically, the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act both prevent debt collectors from using abuse, harassment, or other questionable tactics to persuade consumers to pay. If you’ve been contacted by a collection agency about a debt, SoloSuit can help you stand up for your rights in court and increase your chances of winning.

As a resident of Alaska, you need to understand your rights if a debt collector is chasing you for money. Collection agencies aren’t known for being the most reputable businesses, and if an old account of yours ends up in a collection agency’s hands, you’ll probably start receiving lots of phone calls and letters.

Fortunately, both the federal and state government offer protections from debt collectors for Alaska residents. This guide will discuss Alaska debt collection laws and how to handle violations.

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Debt collectors can’t harass or abuse you under federal and state laws

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act prohibit debt collectors from using unfair and deceptive practices to pursue consumer debts. A few practices that are against the law include:

  • Telling you they’ve initiated a legal process against you if they haven’t.
  • Claiming they’ll seize part of your paycheck or take your belongings if you don’t repay a debt (if they don’t have the legal right to do so).
  • Saying they’re an attorney or another representative of the law when they’re not.
  • Implying that you’ll go to jail or face criminal charges if you don’t repay a debt.
  • Telling you that their communications are legal documents when they’re not.

Additionally, the FDCPA prevents debt collectors from harassing or abusing you. Examples of harassment and abuse include the following:

  • Threatening to destroy your personal or professional reputation if you don’t repay a debt.
  • Calling you and refusing to identify who they are.
  • Using profane language when attempting to collect a debt.
  • Publishing that you owe a debt in a public forum, like social media or your local newspaper.
  • Letting your phone ring “off the hook” when you refuse to answer.
  • Calling you at odd hours, such as after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.

If you feel that a debt collector’s activities are abusive or deceptive, they likely are. You should file a complaint with the FTC and the Alaska State Attorney General’s office.

If the FTC finds that a debt collector violated your rights, it may fine them up to $1,000 per violation and potentially take further legal action. Under AS § 45.50.551, the Alaska attorney general can penalize the collection agency between $1K and $25K for each violation of a consumer’s rights.

Alaska wage garnishment laws also protect you

In addition to Alaska’ debt collection laws, wage garnishment laws exist to prevent your income from being taken away unfairly in order to pay off debt.

Under Alaskan law, creditors can garnish your wages according to federal guidelines in 15 U.S.C. § 1673. The maximum amount of the garnishment is the lesser of these two numbers:

  • 25% of your disposable weekly earnings.
  • The amount of disposable weekly wages exceeding 30 times the federal minimum wage.

To learn more about Alaska’s wage garnishment laws and how to stop or prevent wage garnishment from happening there, check out our guide on how to Stop Wage Garnishment in Alaska.

What to do if a collection agency is chasing you for debt

If you’re receiving letters from a debt collection agency, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Instead, keep an objective mindset and read the letter. Your initial communication from a debt collector should include some basic information, like the original creditor’s name, your account number, and the outstanding amount due.

Your next step is to make the collector validate the debt. A Debt Validation Letter requests that the debt collection agency prove you owe the debt and that it has the right to collect it from you. You can request other things in your Debt Validation Letter, like a comparison of the debt’s age against the Alaska statute of limitations.

Watch our video to learn the importance of Debt Validation Letters — and how to write one:

If the collection agency doesn’t respond to your letter, it doesn’t have the requisite proof that you owe the debt. Unless it provides the requested evidence, it must cease all collection efforts against you.

If you don’t hear back from the collection agency, check your credit report to ensure there’s no adverse information from the debt collector. If there is, you can dispute it and provide a copy of your debt validation letter as evidence.

How to handle an Alaska debt lawsuit

At some point, a collection agency that knows it has a valid legal claim against you may decide to take its case to court. You’ll receive a court summons with a Complaint attached if it does.

A Complaint lists the creditor’s claims against you, such as unpaid debt. It will include the amount you owe and any pertinent information concerning your account.

Receiving a court Summons is scary, especially when you’ve never been the subject of a debt lawsuit. You’ll want to carefully review the documents you receive to know the date of your hearing and the amount the collection agency says you owe.

It’s important to file a response to the collection agency’s Complaint — this response is known as an Answer. List any defenses you have against the collection agency’s claims. Your Answer will show the collection agency it can’t push you around, and you don’t intend to let it win a default judgment without the court hearing from you first.

SoloSuit’s Answer form makes it easy to respond to your debt lawsuit.

If you’re unlikely to win the lawsuit (even with your gallant efforts to protect yourself), it’s best to resolve the matter before your hearing. You can either repay or try to settle the debt.

Repaying the debt stops any further legal activity against you. The debt collector must drop its claim. A settlement may work if you don’t have the money to fully repay the debt. In a settlement, you pay a portion of the obligation in exchange for the agency dropping the lawsuit against you.

Let’s consider an example.

Example: Mary has an outstanding credit card debt of $3,000. Purple Debt Collections purchases her debt and sues Mary for the amount she owes. Mary uses SoloSuit to respond to Purple Debt Collections’ Complaint, and then decides to try debt settlement. She uses SoloSettle to send an email to Purple Debt Collections, asking if it would be willing to drop the lawsuit in exchange for a $1,500 lump-sum payment. Purple Debt Collections agrees to Mary’s offer. Once it receives the money, it drops the case.

Alaska debt collection laws protect consumers from abuse and harassment

Once a collection agency purchases a debt you owe, it will likely start trying to contact you. Pay attention to its methods and don’t accept any abuse or harassment. Instead, report it to the FTC and the Alaska State Attorney General’s office. If your collection item turns into a debt lawsuit, resolve the matter before it becomes a judgment.

Is a debt collector suing you in Alaska? Use SoloSettle to settle your debt today.

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