Have you gotten behind on your financial obligations? It doesn’t take long for the telephone calls about unpaid bills to begin. Persistent debt collectors apply pressure for the outstanding debt or late bill to be paid. As a result, you may feel desperate to stop creditors from calling you.
Debt collectors are permitted to make reasonable attempts to collect debts, as long as the debts are legitimate. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) identifies collection practices which are not legal . Struggling financially is stressful enough. It may help you to understand what debt collectors can and can’t do when pressuring people to pay their debts.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
In 1979, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted so that consumers will have protection against the tactics of unscrupulous debt collectors. Aggressive actions to collect debts commonly include:
- Callers making false representations and empty threats.
- Contacting other individuals about your debt.
- Collecting more money than what is owed.
- Calling so frequently the phone ringing becomes unbearable.
- Trespassing on your property (entering without invitation).
- Threatening physical harm.
- Making calls between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- Exposing the debtor to public ridicule.
- Feigning a legal process.
Limitations of Debt Collectors Per FDCPA
Under FDCPA, debtors’ rights are protected.. It’s important to report debt collectors who do not act according to the following guidelines:
- Calls from debt collectors can be made only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the debtor’s local time.
- If you request that they not call you at work, debt collectors must stop making calls at your place of employment.
- There isn’t a specified number of times debt collectors can call on a daily or weekly basis. Debt collectors are, however, prohibited from continuous calls and annoyance calls with repeated ringing of the phone.
- Although debt collectors can contact friends, neighbors, and family for information about you, they are not permitted to reveal that they are a debt collector. They are forbidden from revealing anything about your debt to people they speak with about you.
- If you advise a debt collector that it’s not a convenient time to talk and then provide an alternate time, your request must be honored.
How to Stop Creditors from Calling
There are several different ways to stop creditors from calling in Georgia.
Cease and Desist Letter
One way to stop creditors from calling you at work is to submit a cease and desist letter requesting that the debt collector stop contacting you. Once a debt collector receives such a letter, they are allowed by law to on one more occasion and advise of their next plan of action, if any. Your letter should be sent by certified mail, so that you are able to track the correspondence and provide evidence your request was received.
Make Payment Arrangements
Debt collectors will stop the incessant calling if you make acceptable payment arrangements to payoff the debt. It is important to verify the debt is yours and the amount being collected is accurate. However, if you do miss a payment, the calls will likely resume.
File for Bankruptcy
In Georgia, when you file for bankruptcy and begin bankruptcy proceedings, part of the process includes informing creditors, after which calls are supposed to stop. When a person files bankruptcy, they must list all of their creditors in the bankruptcy petition. The court will mail a notice of bankruptcy filing to all creditors that are listed. Any attempt by a creditor to contact a debtor after the case is filed is a violation of the bankruptcy automatic stay. If the calls don’t stop even after you’ve entered into bankruptcy through a Georgia court, the debt collector should be reported to the bankruptcy attorney.
Legal Recourse for Debt Collectors
There are a few legal means for a creditor to collect a debt. While you, the debtor, are wondering how to stop creditors from calling, a creditor may obtain a court declaration that he or she has the right to demand:
- A wage garnishment,
- A lien on the debtor’s property, or
- A levy on the debtor’s bank accounts.
In most cases, judgment creditors pursue wage garnishment. This involves contacting the debtor’s employer and requiring that a certain portion of the debtor’s wage is sent to the creditor each pay period. Georgia’s garnishment rules are the same as guidelines and up to 25% of a worker’s net wages can be garnished.
A lien is a claim or encumbrance on a property. If the debtor is a homeowner, a judgment creditor has a right to place a lien on the home. This means that if the debtor refinances or sells the home, the debtor will be required to pay the judgment out of the proceeds of the refinance or sale of the home. If the equity on the home is less than the amount of the judgment, then the debtor may be prevented from refinancing or selling the home until the judgment has been paid.
Levy Bank Accounts
State law in Georgia governs the levying of bank accounts under O.C.G.A. § 9-13-50 & O.C.G.A. § 9-13-16 . State law also governs whether there is a sum of money the debtor can rightly claim as being exempt from the levy. In Georgia, the plaintiff must possess a Fieri Facias, which is a legal writ that enables law enforcement to seize whatever amount of the property belonging to the debtor that can be sold to satisfy the creditor’s claim.
Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey B. Kelly today for a free consultation to review your rights to stop debt collections and wage garnishments. Filing bankruptcy may be the ideal solution to end the harassing bill collectors and provide a fresh start to your financial future. Call 770-809-3099 today.