Millions of Americans struggle with debt. Unfortunately, many of these people also must deal with unscrupulous debt collectors.
People in this situation can be afraid to answer the phone or leave their home. They can be worried about whether a boss or family members know about the financial situation. This is especially true for victims of creditor harassment.
What is creditor harassment?
As described in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditor harassment can take many forms, including misrepresentation, annoyance and abuse by a creditor. More specifically, it can involve a creditor:
- Calling you repeatedly to harass or annoy you
- Calling you at inconvenient times, including before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
- Contacting you at work without your permission
- Making threats against you or your family members
- Using offensive or profane language
- Telling you they are an attorney or can have the police arrest you for non-payment
- Lying about the amount of money owed
- Attempting to collect a debt you do not owe
- Contacting you if you are represented by an attorney
These are just some of the unlawful methods creditors may utilize to collect a debt. Understand, though, that they can still call someone repeatedly or put pressure on someone to make a payment.
However, if creditors are harassing you, you can take steps to stop them.
What can I do if I’m being harassed?
If you feel a creditor is harassing you, keep track of all correspondence. Keep a log of call frequency and times; retain all emails and letters (including envelopes) you receive from them. You can then file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or consult an attorney to examine the options for pursuing financial damages.
You can also request that the collector verify the debt so that you know exactly what it is for and how much it is. Creditors that cannot do this are in violation of the FDCPA.
Writing a letter, or having your attorney write a letter, requesting that they stop contacting you will also put a stop to contact from creditors. Another option may be to file for bankruptcy protection.
Protect your rights
It is challenging enough to deal with debt; people who are subjected to the unlawful practices and hurtful actions of creditors face additional hurdles. However, understand that you have rights and legal options when it comes to protection from creditor harassment.