If you are a Tennessee resident facing overwhelming debt, you probably feel like you are being harassed to death by constant phone calls from all your creditors insisting that you pay their debts immediately. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forbids your third-party creditors from harassing you.
Be aware that third-party creditors are not those to whom you directly owe money. Instead they are the companies, generally debt collection agencies, that bought your debts from your respective creditors when you fell behind in your payments or stopped paying those creditors entirely.
What third-party creditors cannot do
While the FDCPA does not forbid your third-party creditors from calling you at all, it does stop them from doing all of the following:
- Calling you after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.
- Calling you at your workplace if you tell them not to
- Calling your neighbors, family and friends regarding your debt
- Threatening to file suit against you when they have no intention of doing so
- Threatening you with criminal or immigration actions
- Using abusive language when they talk to you
In addition, each third-party creditor must identify itself as a debt collector each time it calls you. Each must also tell you that you have the right to dispute the debt about which it is calling. Furthermore, none of them can give you any kind of misleading, deceptive or false information.
If one or more of your third-party creditors fails to adhere to FDCPA rules and illegally harasses you, you have the right to file a lawsuit against it or them. You can recover any actual damages you sustained as a result of their harassment. In addition, if their harassment tactics were particularly egregious, you could recover both your attorney’s fees and an additional $1,000 above your actual damages.
Unfortunately, the FDCPA rules and regulations do not apply to your original creditors. Technically, they have a legal right to do it. However, you, too, have legal rights. For instance, if you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay stops all your creditors from calling you, be they original or third-party creditors.