Stop the Harassing Bill Collectors in Their Path
Are you receiving calls from harassing bill collectors? Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also known as the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in abusive behavior. While you may think they can get away with a lot, it’s good to know that you do have certain rights and can take specific steps to keep debt collectors from engaging in abusive behavior.
First, it is important to realize that the Act does not actually cover debt collectors who are employed by your original creditor; the first person who loaned you money or extended you credit. The Act only covers individuals who are working for a collection agency and who break the law.
Harassing Bill Collectors Can Be Stopped!
Under the Act, it is illegal for debt collectors to do the following:
- Call you at an unreasonable time. This means that they are not allowed to call you before 8:00 a.m. and not after 9:00 p.m. They are also not allowed to call you repeatedly.
- Debt collectors are not allowed to use profane or obscene language.
- They are also not allowed to threaten you with violence.
- If your employer does not allow it, they are not allowed to call you at work.
- Are not allowed to claim that you owe more than you actually do or to claim to be an attorney if they are in fact, not an attorney.
- They are not allowed to tell you that you will be imprisoned or that they will seize your property if the debt is not paid.
- Debt collectors must always identify themselves as a bill collector in all telephone calls.
- They are not allowed to contact third parties, other than your attorney, a credit bureau or your original creditor, regarding the matter. They are allowed; however, to contact individuals such as your spouse or your parents for the purpose of locating you, if necessary.
What if the Harassing Bill Collectors Disregard the Act?
If a debt collection agency exhibits behavior that is specifically prohibited under the Act, there are steps you can take. First, you absolutely have the right to tell them to stop contacting you. You can do this by sending them a letter telling them to stop all communications. At this point they can send one more letter, but that’s it. Of course, you should always try to resolve the debt, but if you are being harassed, this is an option.
You can also document the behavior by writing it down in a log or journal and then file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. It may take awhile to hear back from your complaint, but there have been cases in which agencies that made particularly bad violations of the Act were shut down.
It is also within you rights to turn around and sue the debt collector, particularly if the behavior has been quite abusive and repetitive. Under the law, you may be entitled to actual losses as well as up to $1,000 for any one violation of the FDCPA.