What Can You Do To Stop Creditor Harassment?
When it comes to collecting debts, creditors can be aggressive, and sometimes invasive. Constant phone calls, intimidating language, and repeatedly unwanted contact from creditors can not only be overwhelming, it can feel threatening. If you feel harassed by your creditors, there are things you can do to stand up for yourself and exercise your legal rights. Whether you are currently filing for bankruptcy or working out your debts in another way, it’s important to take action to defend yourself from aggressive creditors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Federal Trade Commission’s protective Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to guard consumers against creditor harassment in any form. The FDCPA requires that all creditors follow specifically outlined rules.
The FDCPA requires all debt collectors to abstain from the following behaviors:
- Using obscene language
- Asking the debtor to pay more than he or she owes
- Using violent behavior or activities to harm the debtor or the debtor’s property
- Calling at unreasonable hours, or before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Repetitive calling, with the intention to annoy or harass
- Communicating after the consumer asks the collector to stop all contact
- Communication with consumers who have filed bankruptcy
- Contacting the consumer at their place of work
- Attempting to communicate with a consumer represented by an attorney
- Misrepresentation or deception
- Using profanity or abusive language
- Contacting any third parties, including the debtor’s relatives
- Publishing a consumer’s name on a bad credit list, or something similar
Other Creditor Requirements
In addition to the long list of prohibited actions, debt collectors are also required to provide certain courtesies to all debtors they contact. In every conversation debt collectors are required to identify themselves. They must also provide the name and address of the original creditor and are required to notify the consumer that any information gained during their communication could be used in efforts to collect their debt.
After the consumer is notified of his or her debts, the consumer has 30 days to demand verification. However, if the consumer does not, the debt collector is required to mail the consumer the requested verification information. If they fail to do so, the debt collectors are required to stop all collection efforts. In the event that the debt collector chooses to file a lawsuit against the debtor, the lawsuit may only be filed at the debtor’s residence or at the location where the contract with the debt collector was initially signed.
What Can You Do?
Failure to abide by any of these rules could result in serious legal consequences. The first step in stopping creditor harassment is knowing how to recognize it. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the FDCPA, make sure you know your rights and the legal obligations of your creditors. If you are the victim of creditor harassment, there are several things you can do to protect your privacy.
1. Tell the debt collector to stop contacting you. Under the FDCPA, they are legally obliged to listen to you.
2. Report the creditor’s behavior to the Federal Trade Commission.
3. Report the creditor’s behavior to the creditor harassment agency in your state.
4. Sue the debt collector.
You could also go through your phone provider and other agencies to have the phone number of your debt collector blocked, but this is only a temporary fix, in most cases. If you are suffering from debt collector harassment, make sure you document all inappropriate behavior. If the collector has left voicemails, letters, or emails, save all of them for documented proof of their contact. Record the dates and times of all contacts, and if you are able, have a friend, neighbor, or coworker who witnessed the harassment make a statement. If it comes down to a lawsuit, it’s important that you have all the necessary information to support your claims.
Contact Scaringi Law today to get help with your creditor harassment case from our Harrisburg business lawyers.