If you have defaulted on debts, chances are you have been contacted by collection agencies. Debt collectors can be irritating and intimidating, but you have rights as a consumer. Creditor harassment is often illegal. The following debt collection tactics are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
- Lying to debtors: Debt collectors cannot mislead or lie to debtors. This means they cannot pretend to be law enforcement or attorneys. They also cannot lie about the amount owed.
- Threatening debtors: It is illegal for debt collectors to threaten debtors with arrest or acts of violence. Debt collectors cannot threaten to seize property or garnish wages unless they are permitted by law to take such actions.
- Harassing debtors: There are restrictions on how many times debt collectors can call debtors, and when and where they may call. Debt collectors are barred from calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and cannot use profane language. They cannot contact family members, friends or other third parties for any reason other than getting the debtor’s contact information. Debtors have the right to tell debt collectors verbally or in writing not to call at work.
How Can You Stop Creditor Harassment?
If a debt collector is breaking any of the rules listed above, you have several possible options.
- Consider writing down or documenting the illegal behavior. Take note of who you spoke to, what was said, and when the call occurred.
- You can send collection agencies written requests to cease contact.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Filing for bankruptcy may permanently put an end to phone calls and letters from collection agencies. An automatic stay is issued after you file. This requires collectors to cease collection attempts. Any future communications must go through your attorney. Collection agencies cannot contact you over debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy.
The Kansas City bankruptcy attorneys at The Sader Law Firm can help you discover options for managing excessive debts.