Table of Contents
- 1 Turn the Tables on Harassing Debt Collectors and Creditors
- 2 Important Warning Video
Turn the Tables on Harassing Debt Collectors and Creditors
If you have fallen behind on your bills, or if you have been mistaken for someone who has fallen behind on their bills, debt collectors may be making your life difficult by calling you over and over, at work, at home, late at night or early in the morning. They may be threatening to seize your property or garnish your wages, or even claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt.
What if we told you that you don’t have to take this type of abuse, and we can make calls stop NOW. Not only that, you may even be able to collect money for each and every harassing call you receive from debt collection agencies and creditors.
Two federal laws make harassing collection behaviors illegal and allow you to take action against debt collectors, banks, student loan servicers, credit card companies, and other creditors right now.
This guide aims to explain your rights under these federal laws and how we can help you get money from the abusive and harassing collection agencies and creditors that are making your life hell.
Important Warning Video
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers who have incurred family, personal, and household debts, including debts such as auto loans, credit cards, medical bills, and mortgages, from being harassed and abused by collection agents if they fall behind on their payments.
It’s important to know that the law does not cover business debts or debts you may have incurred while trying to set up or run a business. Nor does the law protect you from collection tactics of the original creditor. The law establishes the guidelines for how collection agencies attempt to collect on the debts.
The FDCPA defines a collection agency as any person or company that regularly collects debts that are owed to a third party, including collection agencies, companies that purchase delinquent accounts and attempt to collect on them, and attorneys who regularly collect debts.
When a debt collector violates the law, you can –
- Use the violation in your settlement negotiations
- File a complaint with the Consumer Financial ProtectionBureau
- File a lawsuit against the collector for damages.
The law requires that collection agencies disclose certain information to the person whose debt is being collected, and prohibits the collection agency from using unfair practices to collect on those debts.
Some of the most common unfair practices include –
- Calling early in the morning or late at night
- Contacting you at work after you have told them not to
- Harassing you or verbally abusing you
- Threatening you with arrest or claiming to be a police officer
- Threatening you with seizure, garnishment, or forfeiture if they do not intend to do so or they are prevented by law from doing so
Debt Collector Communications
The law is specific about how debt collectors are to communicate with you. While the collector can communicate with you via phone, text, mail, or email, they have to follow certain rules, including:
- Not contacting you at inconvenient times, such as before 8a.m. or after 9p.m. However, if you work at night and sleep through the day, the acceptable hours of contact would probably be different. You have the right to request when and how you would like to be contacted about the debt.
- Not contact you at work if you have told them, orally or in writing, not to.
- Not contacting you directly if you have a lawyer representing you.
Abuse and Harassment
The law prohibits a collection agency from abusing, harassing, or oppressing you, such as by –
- Making violent threats
- Using abusive or obscene language
- Repeatedly call you
- Threaten to harm you or your reputation (or another person or their reputation)
- Call you without identifying themselves as a debt collector
A debt collector is also not allowed to publish your name for unpaid debts or publicly list your debt for sale.
If you receive harassing or abusive collection calls, hang up. You don’t have to tolerate these types of calls. Write down as much information as you can about the call and caller as you can, to help build your case. Include details such as the caller’s name, the company, time, date, what they are requesting, and anything you said in response to the caller.
Lies and Misrepresentations
Federal law also forbids a collection agency to lie or mislead you, such as by
- Claiming to be law enforcement or government agency
- Lying about or misrepresenting how much you owe
- Saying they are an attorney or sending communications that appear to be from a law firm when they are not
- Threatening that you will go to jail if you don’t pay your debt or accuse you of committing a crime
- Saying your property will be seized unless they are legally able to seize your property and intend to do so
- Sending documents designed to appear as though they are from the court or are part of a legal process
- Threatening to sell your debt to a third-party so that you will lose any defense you had against the original creditor
- Using a false name.
Unfair Collection Practices
The FDCPA also forbids collection agencies to treat you unfairly, such as by-
- Adding fees, interest, or charges that are illegal under state law or not authorized in your agreement with the original creditor.
- Communicating by postcard or putting symbols or words on the outside of the envelope that would indicate what it is.
- Asking for and accepting a check that is post-dated beyond five days (unless the agency notified you before they deposit it)
- Depositing a post-dated check before the date you wrote on the check
- Causing you to incur charges for communications, such as collect calls, or text messaging fees
Auto-dial and Robocall Harassment
Another important federal law, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects you from debt collectors and creditors who use auto-dialers and robocalls to harass you. For example, if you are late on your student loan, mortgage, or bank loan payments, the creditor is not allowed to harass you with robocalls or auto-dialed calls.
If you receive calls that greet you with a recorded message, or if you receive calls that have moments of silence before a live person greets you, chances are you have been illegally called by a machine. Often, when you answer this type of call, you are disconnected before a live person gets on the line.
The TCPA makes these calls illegal whether they are made to your home phone or your cell phone, unless-
- You gave permission for the creditor to contact you this way
- You were given an option to opt-out of these calls, and
- The caller gives you (or leaves a message with) their proper identification and full contact information
You can tell the caller you do not wish to be called on your home phone, work phone, or cell phone, and the law says they must obey your request. If you continue to receive these types of calls after “opting out” you may be able to seek compensation for each and every call.
Collectors Who Violate Federal Laws May Owe You Money
Under the FDCPA, if a debt collector violates these federal laws, you are entitled to seek legal recourse, including
- Filing a lawsuit against the debt collector
- Up to $1,000 in statutory damages
- Actual damages
- Attorney costs and fees
In some cases, such as when a debt collector is especially harassing or abusive, you may be able to seek financial damages for emotional stress. For example, if the debt collector uses obscene language, insults you, yells at you, hangs up on you or gives a third-party (friend, co-worker, family member) information about your debt, you could be compensated for any therapeutic or medical help you receive for the emotional distress these actions could cause.
Under the TCPA, if you are receiving unwanted phone calls from debt collectors, banks, credit card agencies, student loan companies, or debt collectors, you may be able to seek compensation for each call through a lawsuit. Federal law allows consumers to seek up to $500 in compensation for each illegal robocall or auto-dialed call, and up to $1,500 if the robocaller willfully violated federal law.
How We Can Help
We’ve advocated for the rights of consumers for decades, and we stand ready to fight on your behalf. Federal law makes clear how debt collectors and creditors are to treat consumers, and when they don’t follow the law, we hold them accountable.
Contact our firm today so we can stop the harassing and illegal calls now and help you seek significant financial compensation for the creditor’s or debt collector’s illegal methods and tactics.