It’s never easy to be in financial hardship because of large mortgages, credit card debt, past due bills, or job loss. When you’re unable to pay your debt, it won’t take long for debt collectors to harass you through ongoing phone calls. This can quickly exacerbate your stress level and lead to a number of other problems. It is legal for debt collectors to make persistent attempts to collect the money you owe them; however, there is a fine line between this and harassment. Harassment is intolerable and illegal by the Federal Trade Commission. Most debt collectors carefully walk this line; thus, are technically obeying the law. Some are not. If you believe you are being harassed by debt collectors, there are legal actions you can take to put an end to it.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA was started to protect people from the harassment of debt collectors. Under this act, any debt collector who is employed by a third party is not allowed to engage in harassing behavior. The act does not include collectors who have been hired by the actual creditor. Some states, such as California, have created their own laws that do prohibit harassment from the original creditors so be sure to check with your state or a lawyer. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are required to:
- Notify who they are during every communication made
- Notify the consumer that any information given will be used to collect the debt
- Provide the name and address of the creditor
- Tell the consumer they have the right to dispute the debt. This notice is to be made within 5 days of the original communication.
- Provide the consumer with verification of the debt within 30 days. If this is requested, the collector must mail the information or cease collection efforts.
- The collector must report a disputed debt to the credit bureau.
- If the debt collector files a lawsuit, it must be done where the consumer lives or signed the contract with the creditor.
Under the FDCPA Act, debt collectors cannot:
- Call outside the hours of 8 A.M. and 9 P.M. in the consumer’s timezone.
- Continue attempts to communicate with the consumer if he or she has sent a notice refusing to pay the debt or to end communications.
- If the above notices have been made, the only further notice that can be given is to notify the consumer that collection efforts are being terminated and/or other remedies, such as a lawsuit, are being considered.
- Constantly call the consumer which leads to annoyance, abuse, or harassment.
- Communicate with the consumer if they have filed for bankruptcy.
- Communicate with the consumer at their job.
- Communicate with a consumer who has retained a lawyer.
- Communicate with a consumer if they have requested the validity of the debt.
- Misrepresent, deceive, or lie to the consumer.
- Publish the consumer’s information on a bad debt or other similar list.
- Seek unjustifiable amounts.
- Threaten legal action or arrest.
- Use profane language.
- Communicate with any third parties other than the spouse of the consumer.
- Contact a consumer through any forms of media that could cause embarrassment (i.e. postcard).
- Report false information on the consumer’s credit report.
Has a Debt Collector Breached the FDCPA While Trying to Collect Debt From You?
If you believe the FDCPA has been breached, or you would like to learn about your rights as a consumer in debt, call a bankruptcy attorney today.