If you have fallen behind on paying your credit cards or other debts, you may find yourself being subjected to the intense attention of debt collectors. This generally becomes especially true during such times as economic recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 where millions of Americans found themselves out of work. Unfortunately, past history has shown abuse of consumers by debt collectors who have engaged in practices that are now prohibited by law. These abuses can range from incessant phone calls, foul language aimed at consumers, and empty threats of law enforcement or civil action when the caller has no legal right or intention of doing so.
The abusive actions of debt collectors has become commonly known in our society as “creditor harassment.” It led to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that was passed in 1978. The law outlines what is considered abusive, deceptive, or unfair behavior on the part of debt collectors. It also provides a legal remedy for consumers who have endured any of its illegal debt collection practices. In this blog, we will show you what those illegal practices consist of and how you can fight back against offending debt collection agencies.
Overwhelmed by debt? Need a legal solution? Discuss bankruptcy and other options with a Chattanooga attorney at Conner & Roberts, PLLC by calling (423) 299-4489.
Rules for Debt Collectors Under the FDCPA
The FDCPA outlines what a debt collector must disclose when contacting you as well as the types of actions and behaviors that are unlawful. It generally applies to agencies that engage in the business of collecting debts or who routinely collect debts for others.
Below are some of the rules outlined by the FDCPA:
- When initially contacting you, they must identify themselves as debt collectors, that they are trying to collect a debt from you, and that any information you provide them will be used for that purpose.
- They cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- They cannot contact you if you have an attorney handling the matter.
- They cannot contact at work if you are not allowed to take personal calls while on the job.
- They are not allowed to threaten to use or use violence.
- They are not allowed to threaten to harm or actually harm you or someone you know.
- They are not allowed threaten to harm or actually harm your reputation or property.
- They are not allowed to use foul or abusive language.
- They are not allowed to repeatedly call you.
- They are not allowed to publish information listing you as a deadbeat who fails to pay bills.
- They are not allowed to offer to sell your debt to the public.
- They are not allowed to call without identifying themselves as debt collectors.
- They are not allowed to say they are a lawyer or that they are communicating from a lawyer.
- They are not allowed to say they are a law enforcement agency.
- They are not allowed to lie about the amount you owe.
- They are not allowed to say that you have committed a crime.
- They are not allowed use a phony business name or claim that they are from a credit bureau.
- They are not allowed to contact third parties about your debt, such as parents, spouse, or relatives if you have sent them a letter advising them not to do so.
Because the FDCPA was passed in 1978, the law failed to take into account digital communications that are currently used, such as texts, emails, social media, and voicemails. However, the law was amended this October to include and clarify how it now protects you digitally as well.
Harassed by Creditors in Chattanooga?
If you have been subjected to any type of creditor harassment, you can take action by bringing your case to an attorney. A letter written to the debt collector by an attorney can stop the harassment. You also may be able to bring a lawsuit against the offending party for damages. At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, we have helped countless clients throughout our community to eliminate runaway debt and move forward with a fresh start. Our firm is committed to improving the lives of our clients through appropriate legal action.
Contact us at (423) 299-4489 for a complimentary consultation about your financial situation today.