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Massachusetts Law About Debt Collection

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Federal Law

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Federal Trade Commission. The primary federal law governing consumers' rights in debt collection.

Selected Case Law

Schaefer v. ARM Receivable Management, Inc., (US Dist. Ct. Mass., July 19, 2011). A debt collector does not have to tell a debtor that interest may accrue. A debt collector can continue to contact a debtor to seek "voluntary repayment of a time-barred debt."

Other Web Sources

The Attorney General's Guide to Fair Debt Collection, Mass. Attorney General. A brief guide outlining your rights under fair debt collection laws.

Consumer Advisory-New rules reduce predatory debt-collection practices, improve consumer protections, Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, 2011.

Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors in Massachusetts, National Consumer Law Center, 2011. "The information in this packet is intended to help you: Separate your finances from your abuser; Deal with any existing debts; Stay financially independent in the future and avoid traps and scams; and Get more help and information with these issues."

Debt Collection Firms, "It's usually wise to steer clear of debt negotiation firms. Here's why."

How to Legally Settle Your Personal & Credit Card Debt for Pennies on the Dollar, Atlantic Publishing, 2009. Requires Library Card for access.

How to Wipe Out Your Student Loans and Be Debt Free Fast, Atlantic Publishing, 2009. Provides sensible approaches to paying off your loans as quickly as possible. Requires Library Card for access.

How to Protect Your Clients' Cash and Assets under New Massachusetts Personal Property Exemptions, by Robert J. Hobbs and Hon. Carol J. Kenner, NCLC, 2011. Terrific piece that explains changes in exempt property law with examples illustrating when rights should be asserted and plenty of cites to relevant laws.

I Have Debt - Help!, Mass. Legal Help, June 2012. Great resource covers Rights and respsponsibilities, What can I do about my bills?, Which debts do I pay first?, Credit reports, Debt collectors, Going to court, and more.

If a Creditor Takes you to Court for Unpaid Bills, Mass. Legal Help, June 2012. Covers everything you need to know about being sued for debts, with all the steps in the process.

Is there a statute of limitations on billing for bad debts?, Archived page by former Attorney General. "There is no statute of limitations on billing for bad debts, but there are statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits and for reporting the debts to the credit reporting agencies. Although these do vary depending upon the type of debt, in general there is a six year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit to collect upon a debt, and a seven year statute for reporting bad credit. It is rarely a good idea to decide not to pay a good debt if you are relying wholly on the statute of limitations, because there are more complicated issues involved, including when these may be tolled, or extended, or even when the statutory period has begun to run. But for your question, even if the statute of limitations has run, as long as a collector follows the debt collection rules and is not harassing you, they may continue to make reasonable collection efforts, short of going to court."

Paying the Debts of a Deceased Relative: Who is Responsible?, Findlaw. "After a relative dies, the last thing grieving family members may expect are calls from debt collectors asking them to pay their loved one’s outstanding debts. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, a surviving relative usually has no legal obligation to pay the debts of a family member who has died. In fact, the rights of surviving relatives are covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you."

Solve Your Money Troubles: Get Debt Collectors Off Your Back, Nolo, 2013. Includes information on secured debt, negotiating with your creditors, student loans, credit cards, bankruptcy and more. Requires Library Card for access.

Substantive Defenses to Consumer Debt Collection Suits, Mass. Legal Services. "Extensive materials from a training on defending debt collection suits.  Topics covered include: Interviewing clients and evaluating cases, Collection case procedures in district court, Supplementary process." Includes "an overview of the law as well as forms and sample pleadings."

Time-Barred Debts: Understanding Your Rights When It Comes to Old Debts, Federal Trade Commission. Important information about your options if a debt collector contacts you about an old debt.

Vehicle Repossession, Federal Trade Commission. Not specific to Massachusetts, includes general information on what happens if your car is repossessed, including details such as what happens when a creditor sells your car, what happens to your personal property inside the car and more.