What consumers should know about debt collection laws in New Hampshire

Regardless of where you reside, managing debt can be difficult. For the benefit of its citizens, New Hampshire has consumer-friendly legislation that can make borrowing and repaying loans simpler than in some other states.

Debt collection laws in New Hampshire

You still have rights even if you are falling behind on your bill payments. Collectors cannot treat you like a criminal just because you owe money, according to debt collection laws in New Hampshire. If it is determined that a debt collector or creditor violated your rights, you can be eligible for a financial settlement. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act includes several of these rights. You might have the right to sue a debt collector and have them compensate you if you were affected by one of the typical FDCPA breaches listed below.

  • A debt collector or your creditor can only call you between 08:00 am and 09:00 pm.
  • They cannot contact you at your office if you tell them not to do so.
  • They cannot contact you if you ask them not to do so.
  • They cannot contact anyone other than your wife about your debt.
  • If they do not identify themselves or state the reason for their call, then that is a violation.
  • They cannot contact you if the debt is no longer valid.
  • They cannot threaten you.
  • They cannot use vulgar words or shout at you.
  • They cannot harass you by calling over and over again.
  • They cannot pretend to be a representative of the government or an attorney.
  • They can't exaggerate how much you owe and who you owe it to.
  • If they tell you that you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay your debt, then that too is a violation of the law.
  • They cannot threaten to file a lawsuit, seize or place liens on your property, garnish your pay, or take any other legal action against you that they are not authorized to do or intend to take. Before doing these activities, a debt collector must first file a lawsuit against you and receive a court judgment.
  • They cannot lie about credit information. 
  • You cannot be asked to pay more than what you owe. Asking for the wrong amount is a violation of FDCPA.

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations determines how long debtors have to settle their debts before collection companies or creditors can file a lawsuit against them. Wages or bank accounts of the debtor could be seized in the event of a successful lawsuit. The debt is "time-barred" after the statute of limitations. The debt is still your responsibility, but if a creditor tries to sue you, you may be able to have the case dismissed. To prevent the judge from automatically finding in the creditor's favor, you might need to show up in court and demonstrate that the debt is time-barred.

In New Hampshire, the statute of limitations for mortgage debt is 20 years; for medical debt and state tax debt, it is six years; for credit card and auto loan debt, it is 3 and 4 years, respectively. 

The statute of limitations generally begins after your account is in default, which frequently happens after multiple missed payments. The starting point, like the length, could change depending on your contract or the regulations governing particular sorts of debt. When they contact you about a debt, you should proceed with caution, especially if the statute of limitations will expire soon or has already passed. A payment could reset the clock and re-age the account, and the time could be turned back even only by admitting that the debt is yours and promising to pay it.

Legal remedies for violations of New Hampshire debt collection laws

As a consumer, you can bring legal action against debt collectors who use unethical collection methods under both the FDCPA and the state act. Both acts allow for the issuance of court orders prohibiting a debt collector from engaging in unlawful behavior as injunctive remedies. Each act also includes provisions for expenses, attorney's fees, and statutory and actual damages for specific customers. While the FDCPA allows for actual damages in addition to up to $1,000 in statutory damages, the state act only allows for the greater of actual damages or $200.

According to the state act, if a creditor or debt collector files a lawsuit, the debtor may file a counterclaim alleging that the creditor or debt collector violated the state act. The court will award damages to the debtor-consumer and reduce the amount owed by the amount of the damages upon proof of a breach by the debt collector or creditor.

For violations of the state act or the FDCPA, consumers may file a lawsuit in federal court or a superior or small claims court to obtain redress. These statutes have separate statutes of limitations, which are three years in state court and one year in federal court, respectively, following the violation.

To ensure that the FDCPA is not broken, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitors debt collector behavior. Consumers with FDCPA issues can get in touch with the FTC. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is another resource for consumers (CFPB). The CFPB receives consumer complaints, forwards them to the creditor, and then collaborates with both parties to resolve them.

Do you feel that a collection agency has violated your rights, as mentioned in the FDCPA? Fret not; we can help you seek redressal in a court of law. We can assist you in obtaining a monetary award of up to $1,000 for each infraction and financial compensation for any losses and legal costs you may incur.

Bankruptcy - Your last weapon to stop debt collection calls

Bankruptcy can be a powerful solution if you're having serious debt issues, and it halts the majority of legal actions, wage garnishments, and more. A creditor may violate the automatic stay if they continue to pursue collection efforts against you after you file for bankruptcy. 

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the most commonly used bankruptcy types, have their own advantages and, in some situations, handle debt and property in different ways. Your goals, property, and income will determine which chapter is best for you. The court gives an automatic stay as soon as you file. Most lawsuits, wage creditor calls, and wage garnishments are halted by the stay, but not all of them. For instance, criminal proceedings will go forward, and creditors can still get their support payments. Except for student loans, bankruptcy is quite effective at wiping out the majority of nonpriority unsecured debts. You can discharge unsecured debt such as past-due utility bills, gym memberships, personal loans, medical expenses, credit card debt, and more.

Conclusion

Giving a debt collector information related to your bank accounts is never a good idea. An authorization to withdraw money may be deemed given by providing bank account details. Once they possess such knowledge, they may debit the account and withdraw an amount that was not agreed upon, which would have a variety of negative effects.

A debt collector may sue you if your account is at least 180 days past due. It's critical to take prompt, cautious action in accordance with New Hampshire debt collection laws when this occurs. You should never neglect legal action. Make sure that you read any court documents you receive. You have the opportunity to dispute the size of the debt the creditor says you owe or the amount of attorney's fees sought by the creditor by replying to the case. Any potential legal defenses against the debt will be lost if you choose to disregard the case. You will be given the notice to come to a monthly payment hearing once a judgment is rendered against you so that you can create a reasonable repayment schedule. You will be given the opportunity to testify at the hearing and provide a financial affidavit proving your inability to pay the debt.

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