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Georgia Debt Collection Laws 

Georgia Debt Collection Laws 

Georgia has debt collection laws that protect the interests of debtors and creditors. Understanding the intricacies of debt collection laws can reduce legal risks and compliance issues. Learn more about the state’s debt collection laws and why partnering with the right debt recovery agency can help you meet your goals.

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What Are the Debt Collection Laws in Georgia? 

Georgia’s primary debt collection law is the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enacted in 1978 to prevent deceptive, abusive and unfair debt collection practices. The law outlines limitations for debt collectors and provides guidelines to protect consumers.

The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors, collection agencies, debt buyers and debt recovery attorneys. It does not extend to creditors. The law also covers consumer debts, including those incurred by individuals, families and households. It excludes corporate or business debts.

Other consumer protection laws, such as the Fair Business Practices Act, protect consumers against deceptive practices. The Georgia statute of limitations regarding debt collection is another essential legislation, highlighting the duration for which a creditor may institute civil proceedings against debtors to obtain what they are legally owed.


Who Is Considered a Debt Collector?

Debt collectors are individuals or companies that regularly collect or attempt to collect debt for another individual or business. Under the FDCPA, a debt collector can also be a business that uses another name other than its own to collect consumer debts that belong to it. For example, the following institutions may not be classified as debt collectors subject to the provisions of the FDCPA:

  1. Institutions that collect another institution’s debt in an isolated instance.
  2. Institutions that collect their own debt under their own name.
  3. Institutions that recover debt that were not in debt when obtained.
  4. Institutions that recover debts obtained as securities for a commercial transaction, such as account receivables financing.


What Are the Roles of Debt Collection Agencies in Georgia?

Debtors perform several crucial functions, such as:

  • Debt recovery: The primary role of debt collectors is to assist creditors in recovering debt. They have the skills and resources to improve your debt recovery efforts while complying with the law.
  • Skip tracing: The best debt recovery agencies have skip tracing tools that enable them to track down debtors. The process involves gathering and analyzing data from various sources to locate the debtor.
  • Reporting and documentation: Debt agencies maintain detailed records of activities and documents, such as correspondence and receipts, for compliance and legal purposes. Record keeping also allows recovery agencies to provide creditors with accurate reports on the status of their accounts.
  • Legal action: Some debt collectors can facilitate legal action on behalf of creditors. They can pair creditors with experienced attorneys to institute civil proceedings against defaulting debtors.


Rights of Debtors Under Georgia Debt Collection Laws

Georgia debt collection laws provide debtors with many rights, including:

  1. Taking legal action against creditors or debt collectors who violate their rights.
  2. Receiving notices, including notices of legal action initiated by the creditor.
  3. Hiring attorneys for guidance or legal representation.
  4. Requesting debt collectors to stop contacting them.
  5. Requesting letters for verification of the debt.


What Are the Legal Protections Against Unlawful Collection Practices in Georgia?

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from adopting abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. Examples of these types of practices include:

  1. Using threats of force or physical harm. 
  2. Using threats of seizing debtor’s properties.
  3. Using threats of legal action without an actual intention or legal right to do so.
  4. Using profane or offensive language.
  5. Calling at unusual times, typically before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
  6. Calling at unusual places, such as the debtor’s place of work, if their employer prohibits such communication.
  7. Calling repeatedly, typically more than seven times within seven days.
  8. Misrepresenting or refusing to disclose their identity when they call debtors.
  9. Making false statements to recover debt.
  10. Releasing information about the debtor to the public to compel them to pay debts.


What Is a Debt Validation Letter?

Debt collection letters enable debtors to ask collection agencies to provide information concerning their basis for claiming that the debtor owes a debt. It also allows debtors to ask collection agencies to stop contracting them or their families. Debt collectors must comply when debtors send debt validation letters to avoid adverse legal implications.


Wage Garnishment by Debt Collection Agencies in Georgia 

Wage garnishment is a powerful tool available to creditors and debt collectors who seek to recover debt in Georgia. But what is wage garnishment, and how does it work? 

Wage garnishment is a court-ordered process that allows debt collectors to take money directly out of the debtor’s paycheck to satisfy a debt. In Georgia, debt collectors can garnish up to 25% of the debtor’s weekly disposable income or 30 times the minimum federal wage, whichever is less. If the debtor’s disposable income is less than 30 times the minimum wage, the debt collectors cannot garnish the wage.


What Other Actions Can Creditors or Debt Collectors Take?

Besides wage garnishment, debt collections in Georgia can occur through the following means:

1. Seizing Money in Bank Accounts

After obtaining judgment, the creditor or debt collector may obtain further orders to garnish the debtor’s bank accounts. However, certain accounts or incomes are exempted, such as pension benefits, unemployment benefits, ERISA-qualified retirement accounts, disability insurance and child support.

2. Attaching Assets

Creditors or debt collectors can seek court orders to place a lien on the debtor’s real or personal property — a property lien is a legal claim over another’s assets. Real property includes land and its permanent structures like buildings. Personal properties include movable items like vehicles, appliances and furniture.

3. Repossessing Property

In the case of secured debts, debt collectors can repossess properties purchased with the loan. Depending on the facts, the debt collector could sell the assets to cover parts or the whole debt. If the debt collector sells the assets beyond the loan amount, they must account for the surplus funds.


How Long Can a Debt Be Collected in Georgia?

Generally, under Georgia’s debt collection statute of limitations, if the loan agreement was a written contract, the debt collector must file the lawsuit within six years from the date the debt was due or payable. If the loan agreement was oral, the lawsuit must commence within four years from the default date instead of when the debt was due.

If the time passes, the loan becomes statute-barred. The legal implication is that the debt collector or creditor may lose their right to institute legal action. Technically, the loan remains unpaid, but the creditor may not seek legal remedies in court. Debt collectors may try using non-judicial means to collect the debt, but the debtor is not legally obliged to comply if the statute of limitations for the claim has passed.


Partnering With a Debt Collection Agency

Partnering with trusted debt collection agencies like Southwest Recovery Services, LLC, has many benefits. When you work with us, you get access to these advantages:

  • Experience and resources: SWRS has a team of licensed professionals with years of industry experience to increase your recovery rate. We also leverage technological tools to help locate defaulting debtors and streamline payments and reporting.
  • Time and effort savings: SWRS performs the time-consuming and labor-intensive processes that come with debt collection, allowing you to focus on your core operations.
  • Compliance and legal protection: SWRS is well-versed in debt collection laws, always ensuring compliance. Partnering with us allows your organization to minimize legal and associated risks.
  • Efficiency: SWRS provides creative solutions to common problems. We develop practical strategies that enable us to recover debts for your company effectively.


SWRS Is Your Trusted Debt Collection Partner

Southwest Recovery Services, LLC, is a reputable financial services and BPO organization. We have multiple offices across the country, including a location in Snellville, and are ready to assist with your debt recovery needs. We don’t get paid unless you do, so there is no risk.

At SWRS, we are ethical and compassionate yet effective in our collection efforts. Do you want to learn more about outsourcing debt recovery? Contact us today!

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