Debt is almost unavoidable in today’s world. Whether it’s credit card debt or a mortgage, debt is an invaluable tool that empowers consumers. However, when the consumers are unable to pay their debts, it can result in harassment from collection agencies. In this post, we will explain what debt collection agencies are, what some forms of harassments are, and what you can to do to stop harassment by creditors.
What Are Collection Agencies, and Why Are They Contacting Me?
If you miss your monthly payments, you should not sit back and assume that debt collectors won’t come calling. Creditors will always do what is in their best interest, which means that you need to be proactive.
If you are behind on your payments, you should immediately contact the company. Explain your situation, and try to develop a repayment plan or compromise. If that fails, your original creditors will turn your information over to a debt collection agency. A debt collector from the agency will then begin contacting you as a representative of your original creditors.
Federal law says that within five days of the agency or collector contacting you, they must provide a written verification of the debt. This document includes the name of the creditor and the amount of money owed, as well as the assertion that any debt whose validity is not challenged within 30 days will be assumed valid.
How Do I Know If I’m Being Harassed?
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors have to follow strict guidelines when they attempt to contact you. This law prohibits a wide range of unruly behaviors. If you notice a debt collection agency break any of these rules in an attempt to contact you, make a record of it in case you plan on pressing charges.
- Calling at odd hours: The FDCPA prohibits collectors calling you outside of normal hours. Specifically, they are not allowed to call you anytime before 8 am or after 9 pm.
- Deceiving or misleading: Whether the agency says that your debt is larger than it is or they pretend that they are involved with the government, collection agencies cannot mislead you in anyway. They are required by law to be clear.
- Ignoring your attorney: If you have hired an attorney to represent you and the agency continues to contact you directly, they are violating FDCPA. The law forbids them from contacting you directly, as all communication should go through your attorney.
- Any inappropriate communication: Obscene language and threats are both considered forms of harassment from debt collectors. Collection agencies are also forbidden from publishing your name.
- Repeated calls: Calling you repeatedly, or on different numbers, is a form of harassment. Debt collectors cannot engage in this behavior, especially if their intent is to abuse or annoy you.
Even if the actions of the collection agency do not fall neatly into one of these categories, it is still possible that they are harassing you.
How to Stop Harassment by Creditors?
Even if the agency is not technically harassing you, there are a variety of steps that you can take so that they will stop contacting you.
- Write a letter to the agency. The best option that you have is writing a letter to the collection agency, requesting that they cease communications. Once they receive this letter, the only responses they can give are to acknowledge the letter, inform you that they will stop contacting you, or to let you know that they plan to sue. When you write the letter, you should also send a copy to the Federal Trade Commission and keep one for your own records.
- File a complaint. If a debt collector is violating the FDCPA when contacting you, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPA). Filing a complaint or even suing through the CFPA can be an effective method of preventing your creditor from repeatedly or inappropriately contacting you.
- File for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy is a last resort that should only be taken when your financial situation is dire. Whether it be chapter 13 or chapter 7, bankruptcy will remain on your credit reports for as many as ten years. While it will allow you to avoid debt collectors, it will seriously inhibit your ability to take on further debt without absurd interest rates.
- Get an attorney. Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you is your best option. They can send a letter to the agency and help you solidify your case against the collection agency.
If creditors are harassing you about any debts that you have accumulated, it is a great idea to get help from our experienced team. Contact our attorneys to begin the process of ending harassment from your creditors.