Being in debt can be incredibly stressful. This stress can be exacerbated by various debt collection tactics creditors use that could be described as harassment.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects debtors from all unfair debt collection practices. However, creditor harassment can prevail despite the legal remedies.
Most debtors do not come forward regarding creditor harassment due to fears of losing assets or lawsuits because of the existing debt.
You don’t have to repay the debt just to stop being harassed by the creditors. Here is a list of pragmatic methods you can employ to protect your person from spurious collection practices:
How to Stop Debt Collector Harassment
Are you getting creditor harassment or debt harassment? Here is a list of pragmatic methods you can employ to protect your person from spurious collection practices.
Debt Collector Harassment
First, here are common questions people ask about bill collector harassment.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says debt collectors can't harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact. Some examples of harassment are repetitious phone calls that are intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you or any person answering the phone. Or using obscene or profane language.
You can sue a debt collector for harassment and collect money for the damages. The FDCPA specifically gives you the right to sue a debt collector for harassment. If a debt collection agency violates the FDCPA, you have the power to sue for debt harassment.
To make a debt collector stop calling you, you can send a cease and desist letter. This letter should tell the debt collector to cease and desist from contacting you.
Just one call can be considered harassment if obscene or profane language is used.
1. Understand the Law
The Federal Trade Commission strongly advises debtors to understand the difference between debt collection practices that are permitted and those that aren’t.
Not all collection calls are disallowed or illegitimate, however, collectors cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on any given day, or during hours you are at work.
The collector cannot contact you if your employer does not allow the calls either. If a creditor violates these requirements, you are free to take legal action against them.
There may be other rules regulating debt collection calls in your state. Know what they are to protect yourself.
2. Ask the Creditor Formally to Stop Contacting You
If you don’t want a creditor or a collection agency to phone you, you have the right to formally request them to stop.
The request must be in written format, so asking them to do so over the telephone is not sufficient. Write a letter asking the creditor to stop calling you and mail it to the individual making the calls.
Do keep a copy of this letter with you as evidence. It’s recommended to send the letter via certified mail and get a return receipt. When you do this, the collector cannot claim not to have received it.
If you send this letter, the creditor can only call you to either inform you of ceasing contact or to inform you of any action he or she will be taken against you, such as filing a lawsuit.
3. Beware of Scams
Don’t assume that all collection calls you receive are for legitimate debts. Some debt collection calls are scams.
Spurious agents may happen to pick up your phone number and call you to collect a debt that you do not owe in reality. Therefore, be vigilant about debt collectors.
A detailed guide on the subject, written by Debt Consolidation, elaborates on the several steps consumers can take to protect themselves against such scam collection calls, you should start by asking questions.
For example, ask the caller about the company he represents, or ask for a number to call them “right back.” Legitimate creditors would readily provide this information. Even asking seemingly trivial questions like “what’s my full name,” can help keep the fraudulent callers away.
4. A Collection Call Must be Followed by a Written Notice
You don’t have to repay a debt immediately just because a creditor contacted you. Once a collection call takes place, the creditor or collection agency must send you a written validation notice specifying the amount you supposedly owe and the name of the individual to whom the money is owed.
This validation notice must be mailed within the first five days following the call. If you don’t get a validation notice, you don’t have to repay the amount, no matter what the collection agent tells you.
5. Do Not Heed the Empty Threats
Creditor harassment also includes deceptive practices with the intention to pressure the debtor to pay up. Collection agents or creditors may threaten you with a lawsuit, try to intimidate you by accusing you of check fraud or threaten to jail you if you don’t pay the amount.
Such actions are explicitly prohibited under the FDCPA. If you are subjected to such harassment, file a complaint against the instigator with the FTC. You can also call your attorney and seek legal remedies. Do not be intimidated by such tactics because your rights are protected under the FDCPA.
It’s important that you understand your rights to take action against creditor harassment, however, keep in mind that creditor harassment doesn’t result in the canceling of the debt.
You will still have to repay any legitimate amount you owe, no matter how you got into debt, even if you successfully complain about collection calls.
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