Unless you have faced financial problems and dealt with the relentless behavior of creditors and bill collectors, you won’t quite understand the stress and anxiety triggered by the situation. Knowing that every time your phone rings it could be someone demanding money from you – money you do not have – weighs heavily on your well-being and can mean the difference between living happily and facing each day with dread.
Financial issues are frequently the cause of stress-related health problems, even to the point where some people take drastic measures. The negative feelings associated with financial worries don’t need to push you to the brink, but for some the shame and worry is just too much to take.
Laws against Debt Collector Harassment
Fortunately, the US government saw that creditors and bill collectors were out of control, and though they couldn’t do much to prevent people from ever having financial challenges, they could make it so lenders weren’t permitted to harass consumers. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to protect consumers from abuse. In addition to preventing abuse, the goal of the FDCPA was also to provide several options for debtors searching for a way to escape debt and begin anew.
The FDCPA applies to personal and family debt, and can help with debts related to medical bills, mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. It is these debts that are often pursued the most aggressively by debt collectors and these debts put the most weight on individuals – obviously if a debt collector is threatening to take your home, you are going to experience a great deal of emotional strain.
What are Debt Collectors Prevented from Doing?
Within the FDCPA are a very specific set of guidelines for debt collectors intended to prevent abuse and harassment. The act also lists things debt collectors are not permitted to do, such as:
• Communicate with a debtor without permission from the debtor or the courts
• Contact a debtor outside of the hours of 8 am and 9 pm, or at his or her place of employment
• Communicate directly with a debtor who is represented by an attorney
• Lie or deceive the debtor
• Communicate with third parties
• Repeatedly call a debtor to the point of harassment
If a debt collector is participating in any of these behaviors, you are likely eligible for protection under the FDCPA – even if the debt is completely legitimate. Many people assume that if they have an unpaid bill they deserve to be victimized. This is not the case! You have a right to take legal action if you are exposed to any of the practices listed above, regardless of your financial situation and whether you are behind on your bills.
For more assistance recognizing debt collector harassment, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The best thing you can do if you feel you are being harassed by a debt collector is to contact an attorney. He or she can evaluate the behavior of the collector and determine your next best step. And if you aren’t eligible to take legal action against a creditor, there might be other things an attorney can help you do to resolve your financial concerns.
For more information or to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney, contact the law office of Frank J. LaPerch, PC at 845.942.5500.