If you live in Rhode Island and have a lot of unpaid debts, debt collectors may start calling you. Being in debt is stressful, and getting calls from debt collectors can worsen it. In this case, it's essential to know the Rhode Island debt collection laws and how to deal with collectors.
The FDCPA regulates how debt collectors in Rhode Island can communicate with you and protects you from harassment and abuse. Debt collectors are not allowed to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; they can't call you at work if you have asked them not to. If an attorney represents you, collectors may only contact them, not you. They also cannot disclose your debt to third parties like your friends, family, neighbors, boss, office colleagues, etc.
Collectors are also prohibited from using abusing language, threatening you, and deceiving you by pretending to be someone they are not. They have to identify themselves as debt collectors before they can collect any payment from you. The FDCPA states that debt collectors cannot misinform you about the amount of debt, the statute of limitations on it, and what can happen if you fail to repay.
Every state has a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which a creditor may file a lawsuit to collect a debt. Creditors in Rhode Island have ten years to sue you for an unpaid loan, promissory note, or credit card. A creditor can still call and send you bills even after the statute of limitations has expired. If the debt collector gets you to make a payment, agree to pay, or even admit you owe the money, you may unintentionally extend the statute of limitations.
|Type of Debt||Rhode Island Statute of Limitations|
|Mortgage Debt||10 Years|
|Medical Debt||10 Years|
|Credit Card||10 Years|
|State Tax Debt||3 Years (or 6 years through property lien)|
|Auto Loan Debt||4 Years|
The first step is to determine whether the call is from a legitimate collection agency before deciding whether to speak with the debt collector. Legitimate collectors must be truthful in their claims and disclose the agency they represent. Do not mention that the debt is yours or reveal any personal information before you confirm the legitimacy of the collector's claims.
Even though calls from debt collectors can feel like they are off the record, they usually aren't. If your case goes to court and a collection agency brings up bad calls you made on the record, you may be seen as uncooperative and rude. Your verbal confirmation of the plan for payments could also be legally binding. Don't give debt collectors a time frame for when you plan to pay if you aren't sure if the debt is yours or if you don't have the money to pay.
If a debt collector has been calling you, write down the date, time, general reason for the call, and the name of the person who called. This is for your records, to prove how often they called and what you talked about. The FDCPA puts strict rules on what debt collectors can and can't say when they can call you. If a debt collector is almost harassing you or making false claims, keeping a log of your calls and texts can help your case in court.
A wage garnishment is a way for creditors, debt collectors, and debt buyers to get the money they are owed. It is a legal way for a creditor to get what you owe them by taking money out of your paycheck. Debt collectors can only garnish a certain percentage of your total income. State law sets these limits so that you will still have enough money to pay your bills after your wages are taken.
If you don't pay your credit card bill, medical bills, or private student loan payments, the creditor may file a lawsuit against you. If they win, the court will give them a money judgment, which lets them start the garnishment process.
Many types of income, including public assistance, are exempt under Rhode Island law. You can file an objection and inform the court about any exemptions you qualify for. You may object if you receive public assistance in addition to your wages or have received public assistance within the last year. You can also object if you are not currently working and do not have any garnishable wages.
Debt collectors in Rhode Island cannot legally garnish your social security unless it is for child support, alimony, or federal student and tax debts. IRAs and many private sector retirement benefits are protected under Rhode Island law and can't be garnished.
If you're overwhelmed by debts, you might want to get some help to get rid of them. Luckily, many debt relief options can help you get back on your feet.
With debt consolidation, you combine your unsecured debts with higher-interest rates into a single debt with a low-interest rate. With this kind of debt relief program, you make one monthly payment that is less than what you were paying for all your credit cards and other unsecured loans. This can be an excellent way to get out of debt if you have multiple high-interest credit cards, payday loans, etc.
Debt settlement differs from debt consolidation because the principal amount you owe can be negotiated down, along with the interest rate. Because you end up owing a lot less total debt, and interest builds up at a much slower pace. Debt settlement is often a faster and cheaper way to get out of debt than consolidation.
If you can't pay your debts, you may have to file for bankruptcy. A formal bankruptcy filing stops creditors from trying to get their money back, and the debtor no longer owes some or all of their unsecured debt. However, you will have difficulty borrowing money on credit for years if you file for bankruptcy.
The FDCPA protects Rhode Island residents from being harassed by debt collectors and limits how and when they can contact you. Although debt collectors can't threaten you or force you to pay your debts, they can file a lawsuit against you and try to garnish your wages. But they can only do that within a specific time, so it is important to know the Rhode Island statute of limitations.
Numerous debt relief options are available in Rhode Island if you are overwhelmed by your debt problem. These options include debt consolidation, debt settlement, and as a last resort, bankruptcy. What will work best for you depends on your situation; attend our Free Consultation session to get an idea of what might best suit your needs.