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Debt Collection Laws in Ohio

Patrick Austin, J.D. | August 02, 2023

Patrick Austin
Attorney from George Mason
Patrick Austin, JD

Patrick Austin is a licensed attorney with a background in data privacy and information security law. Patrick received his law degree at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for the National Security Law Journal.

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: Ohio residents are protected from abusive and unfair debt collection practices under both state and federal law, and in this article, we’ll outline how these in detail and how they specifically apply in Ohio. If you’ve been contacted about a debt, make the collector validate your debt by sending a Debt Validation Letter. If the debt really is valid, consider debt settlement to save money and avoid going to court. SoloSettle makes the debt settlement process easier.

In Ohio, if you fall behind on making payments towards your credit cards, auto loan, student loans, etc. there is a high probability you will, eventually, be contacted by a debt collector. It is important to understand that, in the event you engage with a debt collector, you have legal rights and protections outlined by state and federal law. Creditors who attempt to collect a debt without adhering to these laws can be subject to penalties.

Debt collection in Ohio is regulated by both federal and state laws. Understanding the basics of debt collection and your rights is key to avoiding collection scams and situations that could negatively affect your finances.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Ohio Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are laws designed to protect consumers from unfair, unethical and improper debt collection practices in Ohio. In this article, we’ll break down these laws in detail and explain how you can stand up for your rights against debt collectors.

Let’s jump right in.

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Ohio debt collection laws explained

Ohio Revised Code Section 1321.45 outlines all the rules and regulations debt collectors must follow while attempting to collect a debt. According to this Ohio law, debt collectors have to stick with the following protocol:

  • Debt collectors must identify themselves when speaking with you about a debt and explicitly state that they are making contact with the purpose of collecting a debt.
  • Debt collectors cannot call your employer, coworkers, friends or family and disclose that you owe a debt.
  • Debt collectors cannot communicate through post cards.
  • When communicating by mail, debt collectors cannot use any symbols or language on the envelope that would hint that the contents relate to debt collection.
  • If a debt collector knows you have an attorney representing you, the collector must only communicate with the attorney, unless the attorney does not respond within reasonable time.
  • Debt collectors cannot call you before 8 a.m. EST or after 9 p.m. EST at the your location.
  • Debt collectors cannot call you at work if they know your employer prohibits such communication.
  • Debt collectors can only discuss your debt with you, your attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, or the attorney of the debt collector.
  • If you have asked the debt collector to cease communication, they cannot contact you again except to notify you of a few points outlined in Section 1321.45(E).
  • Debt collectors cannot harass, threaten, use profane language.
  • Debt collectors cannot pretend they work for the government, are an attorney, or lie about who they are in any other way.
  • Debt collectors cannot lie about the debt or intimidate collectors by threatening to sue if they cannot or do not intend to do so.

These are some of the major protections granted by Ohio debt collection laws. At the end of this section of Ohio Revised Code, the law specifically states that all debt collectors must also follow the rules presented in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Keep reading to learn more about this federal law and how it grants you additional protections.

Federal law also protects you from unfair debt collectors

Ohio also implements federal laws to regulate the debt collection industry there. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law designed with the intent to protect individuals from unfair, improper and inappropriate actions and overtures by debt collectors. The FDCPA contains a series of regulations and restrictions governing the actions of debt collectors, including:

  1. As mentioned earlier, and much like Ohio’s comparable debt collection practices law, a debt collector is prohibited from using harassment, abusive language, or threats of violence when attempting to collect on a debt.
  2. Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting you an unreasonable number of times or at inconvenient times.
  3. Debt collectors are prohibited from using misleading and/or inaccurate information to collect on a debt money.
  4. Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting third parties (e.g., friends, family, employers) about your debt.

If a debt collector violates any of the prohibitions described above, you may very well have grounds to file a legal action under the FDCPA against the debt collector. You could potentially obtain $1,000 in damages simply because the debt collector violated a provision contained within the FDCPA. The debt collector might also be obligated to reimburse you for your attorney's fees and costs. In addition, you may be able to secure an order from the court telling them to stop contacting you. To learn more about how to file a FDCPA complaint, click here.

Read also: What Debt Collectors Cannot Do — FDCPA Explained

Ohio’s Attorney General is your advocate

If a debt collector attempts to pursue repayment from an Ohio resident, they must provide a written notice. For example, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office states that all debt collectors must provide written notification that a debt has been assigned to them. The notice must include details of the debt, such as:

  • The amount owed
  • The name of the creditor
  • The date the debt was incurred

If you receive such a letter or notice of debt collection, make sure to read it carefully before responding. In addition to written notice, there are specific prohibitions on the tone and tenor of communications with a debt collector. For example, debt collectors cannot:

  • Harass you
  • Use abusive language
  • eExcessively call your home or workplace,
  • Threaten legal action unless they intend to take action, or
  • Use false or misleading information to collect a debt from you.

Stop a debt collector from harassing you

If a debt collector is harassing you, there are multiple steps you can take in an effort to halt the inappropriate and harassing communications. First and foremost, you could consider sending a formal letter to the debt collector requesting they cease and desist with the multiple calls and improper, threatening communications. You could also advise that you are well aware of your legal rights under Ohio law and federal law.

Second, you could consider filing a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General Bureaus of Consumer Protection and/or with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Debt collectors can do the following in Ohio

We’ve discussed the limitations placed on debt collectors, so now let’s take a moment to review what debt collectors typically can do under Ohio law:

  • Debt collectors are allowed to contact you about an unpaid debt and request you to pay your debt. However, debt collectors cannot call you repeatedly for the purpose of harassment or call you at work if they know your employer objects.

  • Debt collectors are allowed to advise you they will send your delinquency file to their legal department for escalation (but only when they are legitimately planning to do so). They are prohibited from threatening legal action that they will not, or cannot, actually take.

  • Debt collectors can send written debt collection notices, but all notices are required to contain key elements and pieces of information to ensure compliance with Ohio law.

Individuals and businesses are legally responsible for debts they owe, and creditors have a right to pursue legal action to collect them. It is important to understand which type of debt you are liable for, and how it works under the applicable state and federal law.

Send a Debt Validation Letter to prevent further contact from debt collectors

Within five days of attempting to collect on a debt, the FDCPA requires a collector to provide validation of that debt. It requires the collector to include five points in its communication with you:

  • The amount of the debt
  • The creditor to whom the debt is owed
  • The name of the debt collector
  • Any rights you may have to dispute the debt

If you dispute any aspect of the supposed debt, you have 30 days to send them a Debt Validation Letter. If the collector doesn't provide these five points within five days, then they've violated the FDCPA and you can sue them for $1,000 or more.

The Debt Validation Letter is your first line of defense against debt collectors. If they can validate the debt, they might take further action and sue you. At this point, it might be in your best interest to consider debt settlement.

Settle your debt and move on with your life

In a debt settlement, you offer your creditor a portion of the total amount due, usually at least 60% of the debt’s value. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the creditor agrees to drop its legal claims against you and release you from the remaining balance.

A creditor often considers negotiating a debt settlement if you promise to make a lump-sum payment and clear the remaining amount within a short period. Because of this, debt settlement usually works best if you have some cash saved or expect to receive some money soon

Settling your debt helps you avoid a judgment and wage garnishment. You’ll save some money and move on from this challenging experience.

If you decide to settle your obligation, you’ll want to ensure you get the terms of your agreement in writing and pay the creditor before your court date. If you’ve never tried debt settlement before, consider working with a professional organization that will guide you through the process.

To learn more about how to settle a debt in Ohio, check out this video:

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

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