Summary: New Jersey debt collection laws protect consumers from unfair collection activities, namely the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you've been contacted by a NJ debt collector, SoloSuit can help you respond.
Dealing with an overly aggressive debt collector can be a difficult and stressful experience. Having financial problems is challenging enough on its own. Adding countless phone calls and threatening letters from a debt collector only serves to make the situation worse.
If you are living in New Jersey and can’t seem to get debt collectors off your back, you can find solace in knowing you have legal rights and protections under both state and federal law.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of debt collection laws in New Jersey, including laws pertaining to the statute of limitations.
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act protects NJ consumers
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA) contains some of the strongest protections for consumers to combat fraud in the entire country. For example, the NJCFA protects consumers from sales fraud of all types, including deceptive and improper actions by debt collection agents and agencies.
If a debt collector is found to be in violation of the NJFCA, a consumer may have grounds to file a legal action and recover up to three times the damages (i.e., treble damages) and pay the consumer’s attorneys fees and litigation costs.
It is also worth noting that if a debt collector violates the NJFCA, they likely violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (more on this law below).
New Jersey also has additional consumer protections in place to prevent unfair debt collection practices. For example, debt collectors are prohibited from contacting you at unreasonable times or contacting you at your workplace if you have informed them that you are not allowed to receive calls there. They are also prohibited from engaging in any conduct that is known or should be known to be abusive, harassing, or oppressive.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you on a federal level
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law governing the practices of debt collectors. In addition, the FDCA provides consumers with notable legal protections against certain predatory and harassing practices. For example, under the FDCPA, debt collectors may not:
Threaten to sue a consumer if a debt is beyond the statute of limitations;
Harass a consumer;
Be dishonest in an effort to convince a consumer to repay a debt;
Call the consumer prior to 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
Threaten a consumer with jail time; and
Pretend to be law enforcement or government officials.
Responsibilities of debt collectors under New Jersey Law
In addition to the provisions of the federal FDCPA, debt collectors in New Jersey are subject to specific responsibilities under New Jersey law. These responsibilities are in place to ensure fair and ethical practices when it comes to collecting debts from consumers. It is important for consumers to be aware of these responsibilities to protect their rights and prevent any potential harassment or abuse from debt collectors. Here are some key responsibilities that debt collectors must adhere to under New Jersey law:
Proper Identification: Debt collectors must clearly identify themselves and provide accurate information about the debt they are attempting to collect. They must provide their name, the name of the creditor, and the amount owed.
Written Validation Notice: Within five days of their initial communication with a consumer, debt collectors are required to send a written validation notice. This notice should include information about the debt, such as the amount owed, the name of the creditor, and the consumer's rights to dispute the debt.
Written Confirmation of Debt Payment: Upon receiving a payment from a consumer, debt collectors must provide a written confirmation of payment. This confirmation should include the amount paid, the date of payment, and the method of payment.
Prohibited Practices: There are certain practices that debt collectors in New Jersey are strictly prohibited from engaging in. These include using false or misleading statements, harassing or threatening consumers, disclosing the debt to third parties without permission, and attempting to collect debts that are time-barred or unable to be legally enforced.
Cease and Desist Requests: If a consumer wishes for a debt collector to stop contacting them, they have the right to send a written cease and desist request. Once the debt collector receives this request, they are required to cease communication, except for certain limited circumstances, such as to inform the consumer of legal action taken.
Verification of Debt: If a consumer disputes the validity of a debt, the debt collector must provide verification of the debt. This includes providing documentation or evidence to substantiate the debt and prove that it is owed by the consumer.
Record Keeping: Debt collectors are required to maintain accurate records of all debt collection activities. This includes records of communication with consumers, payments received, and any disputes or complaints.
Speaking of time-barred debt, let’s discuss the statute of limitations. Every state has a different time period on its statute of limitations. In most states, the statute of limitations ranges from four to six years, but it can be as long as 20 years. After the statute of limitations has expired, you can no longer be brought to court for the debt.
Debt collection laws in New Jersey, and at the federal level passed by Congress, are available to level the proverbial playing field between a consumer and a debt collection agent and/or agency. Here are some key takeaways on this article on debt collection laws in New Jersey:
If you are contacted by a debt collection agent or agency, do not throw your hands up in despair. You have legal rights and protections under both federal law and New Jersey law.
If you are being subjected to harassment by a debt collector, you may have grounds to file a legal action under the NJCFA and/or federal FDCPA to potentially recover compensatory damages and injunctive relief.
Debt collectors can only contact you between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm. They are also legally prohibited from calling you multiple times per day.
If you’ve been sued for a debt in New Jersey, respond to the case with SoloSuit’s Debt Answer form and increase your chances of winning by 7x. Check out this video to learn more:
How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states
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If the thought of going to court stresses you out, you’re not alone. Many Americans who are sued for credit card debt utilize a Motion to Compel Arbitration to push their case out of court and into arbitration.
Below are some resources on how to use an arbitration clause to your advantage and win a debt lawsuit.
Do you keep getting calls from an unknown number, only to realize that it’s a debt collector on the other line? If you’ve been called by any of the following numbers, chances are you have collectors coming after you, and we’ll tell you how to stop them.
And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.
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