You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying that “knowledge is power.” Although it may seem cheesy, perhaps even overused, there is a lot of truth to this phrase. The more informed you are, the better you are able to protect yourself in certain situations. Take debt collection harassment as an example. Millions of Americans receive phone calls each day informing them that they have outstanding debt that needs to be collected. These phone calls often include intimidation and outright threats to force people to pay.
The collection agencies using these tactics generally force people to use a credit card over the phone to pay off this debt. There is no shame in carrying debt. In fact, millions of Americans have debt. No one enjoys being saddled with this burden, and everyone with debt would love to be rid of it. Regardless of your situation, debt collection harassment is not something you have to put up with.
If you have debt and have dodged some of these phone calls or other harassment tactics, it’s important to inform yourself about debt collection harassment, common tactics used, and what to do to avoid that harassment.
What Constitutes Harassment?
As an individual with debt, you are not alone in struggling to right the financial ship. According to USNews.com, roughly one in seven Americans face pursuit by debt collectors looking to collect money owed to various creditors. As the number of debt-buying agencies has increased in the 21st century, so too have the scary and illegal tactics used by debt collectors to try and force individuals to pay up on debt.
Debt collection harassment can take many forms. The most common tactic is the use of repetitious phone calls intended to annoy, verbally abuse, or harass you into answering the phone. Most people eventually breakdown and answer the phone; and that is when the intensity of harassment can increase. The practice of repetitious phone calls is, in and of itself, illegal. On top of that, the use of obscene or profane language, threats of violence or harm, and embarrassment are also illegal.
What do we mean by embarrassment? This particularly nasty form of harassment involves a debt collector publishing a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts online in various locations. While it is legal for debt collectors to report information to credit bureaus, it is not legal to post that information anywhere else on the web. This is often used to try and shame people into paying debt.
Last but not least, you should be wary of discussing your debt on the phone with any individual who fails to identify themselves. Debt collectors are required to identify themselves as such when they call you.
How to Prevent and Stop Debt Collection Harassment
When it comes to preventing debt collection harassment, good record keeping can make the difference between feeling intimated and fighting back against harassment. Debt collectors should send you letters or other documents informing you of the accounts overdue and amounts owed. Keep copies of all these documents in your home and also retain a copy of any notes, letters, or documentation that you send to debt collectors.
This will help you when you come up against harassing behavior from a debt collector. In some cases, debt collectors are not outwardly abusive on the phone, but instead deploy deception designed to mislead you on your debt. Common misrepresentations of your debt include:
- Altering the amount you owe
- Informing you the person is an attorney
- Threats that you could be arrested over your debt
In addition to these files, record the date and time of conversations you have with debt collectors, as well as notes about the topics discussed during that conversation. Keeping records of your interactions with a debt collector will help you keep the details straight and make it easier to identify attempts to lie or mislead.
When it comes to stopping harassment altogether, knowledge is again the key to power. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created specifically to protect consumers from debt collection harassment. It prohibits the use of certain behavior by collectors and prevents collectors employed by third-party collections agencies from engaging in any sort of illegal harassment.
However, the act does not cover the behavior and transgressions of collectors hired by original creditors. Courtesy of the act, you do have the power to fight back in the face of harassment. You can start by sending the offending collector a letter informing them they must stop contacting you, as the FDCPA requires them to obey that request.
Document all of the harassing and illegal behavior on the part of the debt collector. Compile all of that information and submit a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You also have the option of sending a letter to your state’s agency dealing with creditor harassment. In extreme cases of debt collection harassment, you do have the option of suing a debt collector. This option should only be considered if you have a very strong case and can accurately document harassment that would be considered over the top.
Help from Fair Debt Lawyers
As we’ve discussed throughout this post, you have the freedom to protect yourself against debt collection harassment. State and federal laws exist to protect all consumers from deceptive and/or abusive tactics on the part of debt collectors. With the help of Fair Debt Lawyers, you can bring an end to the harassment by getting an advocate who works on your behalf. Our legal team will send letters to your creditors requesting an end to collection calls, ask for proof of your debt, and help you keep track of the annoying phone calls.
We can even track the harassing phone calls, letters, and emails you receive, access phone records to establish a track record of abuse, and file a lawsuit on your behalf when creditors refuse to bring an end to harassing behavior.
Your life is full of enough stress when you have debt. There is no need to add to that stress by dealing with the constant barrage of phone calls and abusive language. Bring an end to the stress and receive the guidance you deserve with the help of Fair Debt Lawyers.