Debt Collector Harassment? Learn about the FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protection against debt collector harassment. Despite this federal law, debt collection agencies routinely hound consumers. Debt collectors think that, if they push hard enough, you’ll pay up. Moreover, debt collection agencies know that most folks aren’t aware of their rights under the FDCPA and likely won’t complain.
Most debt collector harassment is related to telephone calls. Let’s explore what’s considered acceptable behavior and what constitutes debt collector harassment.
A debt collector is allowed to call you, but under the FDCPA he may not call at a time or place that’s inconvenient. Setting aside for a moment the fact that debt collection calls are never “convenient,” the FDCPA is generally interpreted to mean that a debt collector can’t call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. In addition, he can call you at work – once. After you tell him that he can’t call you at work, it’s a violation of the FDCPA to do so. Furthermore, a debt collector can’t call you and hang up repeatedly, or call an excessive number of times. The FDCPA doesn’t define “excessive,” but if you’re getting more than two calls a week from the same debt collection agency for the same debt, that probably constitutes debt collector harassment.
A debt collection agency also can’t contact you once you have an attorney; at that point, all communication must go through your attorney. This is a primary reason why it’s important to opt for a free case evaluation from Debt & Credit Lawyer; you need an attorney by your side.
Furthermore, if you notify the debt collection agency in writing that you no longer wish to be contacted, under the FDCPA the debt collector cannot call again. This won’t make your debt go away, but it should stop the debt collector harassment. If you notify the debt collector in writing that you are disputing the debt, he cannot call until he’s proven that the debt is yours to pay.
Using abusive language is another form of debt collector harassment. Typically, a person will answer a debt collector’s call in an honest attempt to work out the debt, and will then be blindsided by the debt collector using profane and abusive language. Debt collectors engage in this kind of abuse to bully people into paying, knowing that inappropriate behavior that can rattle people and scare them into paying. The FDCPA expressly forbids this kind of debt collector harassment.
How to Fight Back Against Harassment
If you’ve been on the receiving end of debt collector harassment calls, it’s important to fight back. First, start a logbook the first time the debt collector calls. Note the time and date of the call, the debt collector’s name (according to the FDCPA, he must tell you his real name), the name of the debt collection agency, and what was said in the call. When you receive additional calls, add them to your logbook.
Second, write a cease and desist letter. Remember, under the FDCPA a debt collector can’t call you once you’ve told them to stop. If you’re disputing the debt, write a debt dispute letter. He can’t call until he’s proven that the debt is yours to pay.
Third, contact a consumer debt attorney. If the debt collection agency has violated the FDCPA, you are entitled to actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $1,000. The legal team at Debt & Credit Lawyer will provide you with a free case evaluation, and will represent you free of charge if you’ve been the victim of debt collector harassment. Call 203-529-5100 to get help.
Finally, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is responsible for tracking FDCPA complaints about debt collector harassment. The Federal Trade Commission uses consumer complaints to detect patterns of abuse. Complaints like yours are the driving factor in lawsuits filed by the FTC against unethical debt collectors.