Even the most responsible people sometimes find themselves in circumstances that make it difficult to pay their debts. Unemployment, an unexpected emergency, or a prolonged illness can eat into your savings or income and leave you in a position where you’re barely able to afford to keep a roof over your head. If this has happened to you, you are certainly not alone. At some point in their lives, most people find themselves in a position where they have credit cards or other bills that are overdue.
If you don’t know what to expect, things can get scary when the creditors start calling. This is why you need to know your rights and how to deal with collection agencies. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) defines what creditors may and may not do when attempting to collect debts. Make no mistake about it, many collection agents will willfully violate this act in an attempt to get you to agree to pay them.
Below is a list of some of the deceptive and abusive practices that are prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:
- Calling before 8 am or after 9 pm
- Continuing to call or send you letters after you’ve notified them in writing to cease contact. They may contact you one additional time to inform you that they are either pursuing legal action or ceasing collection efforts.
- Contacting you at your place of employment after you’ve told them not to
- Threatening arrest
- Threatening legal action if they do not intend to sue you or are legally unable to do so (i.e., Statute of Limitations has expired)
- Use of abusive or profane language
- Discussing your debt with third parties other than your attorney or spouse
- Deceitful practices such as a debt collector claiming to be law enforcement or an attorney
- Misrepresenting the debt
- Intentionally reporting false information to the credit bureaus
If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can file a civil suit against them for actual damages.
Below is a short video that explains how you should handle creditor harassment.