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Debt Collection Laws in Tennessee

Dena Standley | August 03, 2023

Dena Standley
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Dena Standley, BA

Dena Standley is a seasoned paralegal with more than 20 years of experience in legal research and writing, having received a certification as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal from Southern Technical College.

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: Tennessee protects its consumers using state and federal debt collection laws. Consumers often stop debt collectors' calls or win their debt collection cases using the laws in their favor. Explore your consumer rights in this article and learn how to resolve your debt.

Like in all states, debt collection in Tennessee is a common practice that creditors engage in to recover unpaid debts from consumers. Sometimes, they follow the law and act professionally, but often, they violate your consumer rights.

As such, Tennessee debt collection laws were put in place to monitor debt collectors' behavior. Federal debt collection laws also outline rules and regulations that debt collectors must follow when attempting to collect a debt. These laws were designed to protect consumers, like you, from unfair debt collection practices.

In this article, we explore these rules and regulations and empower you to respond to debt collectors at any stage of the collection process.

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Tennessee debt collection laws protect consumers

The Tennessee Collection Services Act (under the Tennessee Compilation of Rules & Regulations Chapter 0320-05 ) protects consumers from unlawful collection practices by debt collectors. These laws explain what, when, how, and for how long a creditor can follow up on debt. The following is a breakdown of this Tennessee debt collection law.

Debt communication

Section Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0320-05-.03 of the Tennessee laws stipulate the kind of communication a debt collector can have with you. For instance, debt collectors should not:

  • Communicate with you at unreasonable hours, like before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
  • Call you numerous times for the same debt
  • Communicate with third parties, such as friends and family, about your debt
  • Communicate with you after you have sent a cease and desist letter
  • Call you at your place of work once you request them to stop
  • Contact you if you hired an attorney to represent you

Harassment and abuse

According to Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0320-05-.04, debt collectors should not engage in any conduct that may be interpreted as harassment, oppression, or abuse of a consumer in connection to debt. Examples of these actions are:

  • Use of threats to harm the reputation, property, or physical body of the debtor
  • Use of obscene or profane language
  • Publishing your name on a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay a debt, except to a consumer reporting agency
  • Calling or engaging you consistently with the aim to abuse, annoy, or harass you
  • Refusing to identify themselves when they call

Debt validation

In section 0320-05-.07 of the Tennessee debt collection law, a creditor should respond to a Debt Validation Letter within five days of receiving it. The written verification notice should contain the following:

  • The debt amount
  • The name of the original creditor
  • A statement that the debt would be assumed valid if not disputed
  • A statement that you can legally dispute the debt
  • A statement that they will provide more information on the credit upon request

Sending a Debt Validation Letter can stop debt collectors' calls. To learn more about how a Debt Validation Letter can stop debt collector calls and protect you from a looming lawsuit, watch this video.

Unfair practices

Tennessee debt collection laws prohibit debt collectors from using unfair or unethical ways to attempt to collect or collect a debt (Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0320-05-.06). For example, a creditor should not:

  • Collect money that is not in the agreement or permitted by law
  • Fail to mention the true purpose of their communication in a misleading way
  • Charge you telegram fees or for calls they make in an attempt to collect
  • Request for a post-dated check, then use it to threaten you or initiate a criminal charge against you

How does the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act protect consumers in Tennessee?

In addition to the state laws, Tennessee consumers can also use the federal laws under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act to protect themselves from illegal debt collection practices. These laws are similar to the state laws and are there to support and enhance a consumer's chances of receiving a fair and just outcome.

Let’s take a look at an example of how the FDCPA protects consumers.

Example: Brad owed Fancy Credits $690 that he had defaulted from paying for three months. The debt collectors started calling him multiple times a day, and they failed to stop even when he sent a cease and desist letter. Instead, they escalated their efforts and called his roommate and sister to ask about his debt. At this point, Brain knew Fancy Credits violated more than one debt collection law and took action against them.

The following are the steps you can take to deal with creditors when they violate the debt collection laws in Tennessee.

Steps to take after a debt collector violates your rights

Undoubtedly, almost all debt collectors violate state and federal laws when you resist their attempts to collect. Even when you ignore them, they are not permitted to break the law. Here are the steps to take when a debt collector violates the law:

  1. Keep an accurate record of all communication with the debt collector, especially when they violate your rights. If they have called a third party, get the documents or print the call log.
  2. Inform them of the violations and request them to correct or you will take further action against them. Go to step three if they fail to respond.
  3. Submit a complaint with your State’s attorney general's office, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Fair Trade Commission.
  4. If they have entered the wrong figures in your credit report, dispute the debt with the three credit bureaus. These institutions will act within 30 days and either adjust or remove the debt.
  5. If the creditor fails to amend the mistake or change their approach and it costs you financial loss or harm, then File a lawsuit for damages under the Tennessee debt collection laws and FDCPA.

SoloSuit can help you deal with persistent debt collectors before, during, and after a debt lawsuit is filed in Tennessee.

Settle your debts in Tennessee

The surest way to get debt collectors off your back is by paying what you owe. But if you go about this wisely, you can usually settle your debt for a steep discount.

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.

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

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.

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

Key takeaways

Tennessee debt collection laws, as well as federal laws, have been created with the intent of leveling the proverbial playing field between a consumer and a debt collector. Here are some key takeaways on this article on debt collection laws in Tennessee:

  • Tennessee debt collection laws protect consumers from unlawful collection practices, including rules on debt communication, harassment, debt validation, and unfair practices.
  • Federal debt collection laws under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act also protect consumers in Tennessee from illegal debt collection practices.
  • If a debt collector violates your rights, you can take steps such as keeping records, informing them of violations, submitting complaints, disputing incorrect information on your credit report, and filing a lawsuit for damages.
  • Settling your debt in Tennessee through SoloSettle can help you avoid judgment and wage garnishment and save money.
  • SoloSettle's tech-based approach facilitates debt settlement by assisting in sending and receiving settlement offers until an agreement is reached and managing settlement documentation securely.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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