Creditor harassment can destroy your peace of mind, but what are your rights when collection agencies come calling? Read our blog to find out more about creditor harassment, laws protecting debtors, and your rights.
What Is Creditor Harassment?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act establishes guidelines for debt collections and defines harassment as oppression or abuse from creditors with the sole purpose of collecting debts. Creditors cannot unlawfully attempt collection and consumers have rights.
The FDCPA states that creditor harassment includes:
- Obscene or profane language
- Threats of harm or violence
- Excessive call volume
- Lists of people who have debt with the intent to shame
- Contacting family members and coworkers with intent to shame or blackmail the debtor
Misrepresentation involves using fake, misleading, or deceptive practices during collections. For example, a creditor may use a false identity to claim the debt or claim to be an attorney. Misrepresentation is considered an illegal collection method and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sample forms available for responding to aggressive debt collectors.
What Happens if the Debt Isn’t Yours?
If a debt collector is contacting an individual about a debt they do not owe, the individual may take action. If you have been contacted, about an incorrect debt, it is vital that you send a dispute letter to the creditor as soon as possible. A dispute letter should state that you do not recognize the debt and requests an itemized list or breakdown of the debt. All dispute letters must be sent within 30 days of the initial collection call.
Once the creditor receives the letter, they must send verification of the debt before they can resume collection. It’s important that you send the letter through certified mail with a return receipt to ensure that you have a record of the letter and date it was sent.
To protect yourself and your finances from unlawful collection, it is important to understand your rights as a consumer.
If you have become the target of creditor harassment, you have the right to:
- Investigate the debt collector: In some cases, a collector may be fraudulent or a scammer attempting to steal your personal information. Always request the name, company, phone number, and business address. While the identity of the caller may be outside of the business or entity to whom you owe money, many corporations use legal collection service agencies.
- Stop collection contacts: You have the right to request that the collections agent stop calling you.
- Debt negotiation: There is immense pressure to pay the amount requested by collections, but you have the right to negotiate the debt. In some cases, the creditor may be able to accept a payment plan or alternative payment method.
- Report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: If debt negotiation is not possible and the collections agency continues to harass you filing a formal complaint with the CFPB can help.
In extreme cases where the collection agency continues to escalate, you may pursue legal action. However, you should never attempt to file a lawsuit without the help of a qualified attorney.
If the debt is yours, but it’s too much to handle, you may have additional alternative options. Bankruptcy is a debt relief solution that allows those with extreme debts to consolidate or liquidate assets and pay what they owe. Once bankruptcy is filed, the court will order an automatic stay which prevents creditors from attempting to collect.
Compassionate Legal Guide
If you are facing creditor harassment the Law Office of Seni Popat, P.C. can help. Our attorney has extensive experience with these cases and can provide the counsel and support you need during this stressful time. We can also provide information on alternative debt relief solutions.
Contact our firm today for more information.