How Debt Collection Laws In West Virginia Protect You From Harassment

It's difficult enough to worry about how you'll pay your bills, let alone the myriad of outstanding debts. Most debtors must prioritize finding a new career and work on factors contributing to their financial difficulties. Federal and West Virginia state rules prohibit collection agencies from adding to the borrower's anxiety by harassing or abusing the consumer illegally.

West Virginia Debt Collection Laws

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, is a federal statute that protects debtors in all states, including West Virginia. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from harassing you over phone calls, misrepresenting the amount owed, or threatening you.

West Virginia has regulations governing debt collection communication, including what and how the debtor and collector share information. Except for these particular guidelines, West Virginia's debt collection procedure is comparable to that of every other state.

It is critical to understand that the rule only applies to collection agencies and not to the original creditor.

The Act forbids abusive or misleading behavior. Collection agencies are prohibited from the following:

  • Calling you anytime before 8 am and after 9 pm.
  • They can contact you further if you have sent a written request to cease communications.
  • Calling at work if you have asked the collection agency not to call you at work.
  • Deceiving you into thinking they work for the government or being dishonest about who they represent.
  • Asking you to pay more than what is owed.
  • Contacting you if they were informed that you have a lawyer.
  • Discuss your debt with anybody other than you, your lawyer, or your spouse. (Collector can contact friends and family only to ask for your contact information).
  • Using abusive language or threatening to pay off the debt.

Responding To Collection Calls Or Letters

If you receive a notice from a debt collection agency, you must answer as soon as possible. Even if you do not owe the money, the collector may continue to try to collect the debt, report negative information to credit reporting bureaus, and possibly sue you. So it is important to respond quickly and verify the collector's claims before you share any information.

If a debt collector contacts you, be sure you understand your rights. Collection agencies are legally obligated to identify themselves and the reason for their call. They must also identify the original creditor and, if questioned and validate the debt.

It is critical to ensure you are being approached about a valid debt you owe. In an age when financial scams are on the rise, someone may try to coerce you into paying a debt or an amount that is not yours. When you receive a collection call, make sure to ask for the following information:

  • The caller's name and the agency they work for
  • Name of the creditor they are collecting for
  • Amount of debt owed and how they can prove it
  • What can you do to contest the collection attempt if the debt is not yours

With the above information, you can respond accordingly to the debt collection agency or contact your lawyer if needed. If the debt is yours, you're legally compelled to pay it. The collection agency may be able to work with you to reach an agreement. Some will accept less than what you owe if you negotiate with them.

Remember, everything you say when you answer a collection call may be used against you in court should they choose to file a lawsuit against you. Never confirm or deny that the debt is yours before being completely sure. Do not agree to a payment plan unless you are ready for it.

West Virginia Statute Of Limitations On Debt

A statute of limitations is the time restriction within which creditors or debt collectors file a lawsuit to recover a debt. Debt collectors can still attempt to collect debts after the West Virginia debt collection statute of limitations has expired.

They can send you letters or phone you to try to get you to settle the debt as long as they do not break the law. A debt collector cannot file or threaten to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed.

Type of Debt West Virginia of Limitations
Mortgage Debt 10 Years
Medical Debt 10 Years
Credit Card 10 Years
State Tax Debt 5 Years
Auto Loan Debt 4 Years
Promissory Notes 6 years

What If A Debt Collector Calls To Collect Debt Beyond The Statute Of Limitations?

You technically still owe the money even after the statute of limitations expires. Statutes of limitations establish a time limit for the collectors to file lawsuits. They do not remove your legal duty towards a debt unless there is a special law in West Virginia that does so.

Unless the debt is legally canceled, debt collectors may continue approaching you and asking you to pay the debt. You mustn't do or say anything that could extend or waive the statute of limitations in this circumstance.

Acknowledging that you owe the debt, accepting a settlement offer, or making a payment on the debt are all actions that could reset the statute of limitations.

Collectors may persuade you to say or do something that would restart the statute of limitations in West Virginia. If you are unable to repay the debt, you should avoid engaging with the debt collector or creditor without first consulting with a lawyer.

Wage Garnishment In West Virginia

Wage garnishment is one method of debt collection that creditors might use if you have fallen behind on your payments. Legal practice is when one of your creditors obtains a court order directing your employer to send them a portion of your income.

Garnishment cannot occur until you are made aware of it, and your creditor cannot garnish your earnings until they have sued you for an unpaid debt and received a judgment against you. Certain debts may not require the creditor to file a lawsuit to garnish your earnings. For example, delinquent child support, college loans, and income taxes.

Wage garnishment in West Virginia is restricted to smaller of the following amounts:

  • 20% of your weekly disposable income
  • The amount that is equal to your total earnings for a week minus 50 times the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage as of now is $7.25, so 50 times that is $362.5. Then this amount is equal to your weekly wage minus $362.5.

You can avoid wage garnishment in West Virginia by renegotiating with the creditor or paying it off in full. You can also declare bankruptcy if you cannot pay off the debt. West Virginia state bankruptcy exemptions can help you protect some of your possessions. You can speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to learn which type of bankruptcy is best for you.

The Bottom Line

If your debt goes into collections in West Virginia. Federal and state debt collection laws protect you from being harassed by collectors. Being in debt is unpleasant, and you must be aware of your rights when debt collectors contact you daily.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from engaging in harassment, which includes abusive, threatening, or misleading communication. You should consult with an attorney if you have been subjected to this form of abuse.

If you are struggling to make your minimum monthly payments and see no way out, it may be time to look into debt relief options. A debt consolidation program can effectively pay off your high-interest credit cards and consolidate these outstanding balances into a single payment with a reduced interest rate over a longer payback period, resulting in a considerably cheaper monthly payment.

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