It is never easy to deal with debt. Quite frankly, debt can be stressful and may impact your lifestyle. On top of the stress of having to pay your debts, you might have to deal with debt collectors who are out to make your life miserable with those constant phone calls and repeated abuse and threats.
Although there are laws governing the behavior of debtors and creditors, the creditors are blatantly disregarding the laws by attempting to coerce debtors to pay them entirely. In as much as persistent debt collection is considered legal, harassing phone calls and abusive behavior by the creditors are prohibited. Legally speaking, they are classified as creditor harassment.
If you or your loved one experiences creditor harassment, you can take legal action against the creditor. Here is a brief elucidation of what constitutes creditor harassment and how an attorney can help you.
Which Law Safeguards Debtors against Creditor Harassment?
Debt is never a crime and can't be prosecuted under the criminal justice system unless it falls under exceptional circumstances. Even so, debtors are safeguarded from the malicious actions of their creditors through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Put briefly, the fair debt collection practices Act is a federal law that sets out to protect consumers from unscrupulous and predatory collection practices. Essentially, this legislation is a legal safeguard against unreasonable behavior from creditors and collection agencies.
Also, under the Federal Bankruptcy Code, creditors are prohibited from contacting you once you have enlisted the services of a debt relief lawyer.
What Qualifies as Creditor Harassment?
Generally speaking, creditor harassment is broad. A simple but unreasonable behavior such as a creditor calling at odd hours of the night constitutes creditor harassment.
Put briefly, some of the practices prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) include:
- Threatening debtors with arrest
- Threatening debtors with legal action if no such action is intended
- Discussing a debtor's debt with a third party, such as a family member or neighbor.
- Repeated phone calls or texts that are meant to annoy or abuse you.
- Calling a debtor at odd hours (before 8 am or after 9 pm)
- Using any misrepresentation.
- Communicating with a debtor at their place of work even after being asked to cease.
- Claiming that a debtor owes more money than they actually do
- Adding unauthorized fees, charges or interest.
These are some examples that constitute a violation of the legal safeguards set out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
What should you do Following Creditor Harassment?
If you feel that the actions or behaviors undertaken by your creditor amount to harassment, there are specific vital steps you can take to safeguard your rights envisioned under the FDCPA.
The following are some of the critical steps you can take:
Write a Letter Requesting to Cease Communications: This letter is addressed to the creditor, and they are mandated to desist from any form of communication. However, if the creditor disregards the letter, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
Keep Records of any Harassment: It is essential to document all illegal conduct that is prohibited under the FDCPA. Essentially, this helps you build a strong case against the creditor.
File a Complaint with the FDCPA: If the harassment persists, you are obliged to file a complaint with the FDCPA by reporting the company online. This report should contain all the complete details relating to creditor harassment.
File a Complaint with your State Agency: You can send a complaint to your state agency dealing with creditor harassment. This may prompt the collection agency to cease any form of communication.
Sue the Debt Collection Agency for Harassment: You can sue the debt collection agency. However, this should be done once you've established that you have a concrete case. As such, it is crucial to consult an attorney before taking any step.
Get an Attorney to Help You With Creditor Harassment
Creditor harassment is a gross violation of the rights of the debtor. The predator behaviors used by the creditors may infringe on your right to privacy, cause marital instability or even cause you to lose your job. As such, it is imperative to take the necessary steps to safeguard your rights.
Essentially, an attorney can help safeguard your rights and ensure creditors do not victimize you.
Contact the Law Offices of James C. Shields today for a free case evaluation