Dealing with debt collectors is one of the most difficult aspects of having delinquent debt. Many of the debt collectors use harassing tactics in an attempt to force immediate debt payment even if you cannot afford such payment. Debt collectors can make a bad situation even more stressful. You find yourself wanting to do whatever they ask to stop the continued harassment.
Before you give in to the scare tactics, you should know that many of their practices are illegal and you have federally protected rights. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the practices of debt collectors through the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. These regulations define what a debt collector can and cannot do when contacting a consumer for debt collection.
Unfortunately, many debt collectors take advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge about their rights and continue to use outlawed tactics against them.
Illegal Debt Collector Practices
Here are some of the most common illegal practices that collectors use:
Calling repeatedly, at odd hours, and at work.
This is the most common tactic that collectors use to harass consumers. They feel they can wear the consumer down by calling repeatedly in one day, early or late at night, and at their workplace. But, FTC regulations say collectors may only call the consumer at their home between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time and they must not do so repeatedly in one day.
Misrepresenting who they are.
Many debt collectors contact consumers posing as a law enforcement official or government agent trying to persuade them to make a payment. According to FTC regulations, debt collectors must always truthfully identified themselves and who they are working for.
Some debt collectors resort to threatening consumers with lawsuits, wage garnishment, arrest, and even bodily harm. This grossly violates FTC regulations. The regulations forbid debt collectors from threatening consumers with actions that are not accurate and lawful.
Telling others about your debt.
Debt collectors have contacted consumers’ family, friends, coworkers, and employers hoping to shame the consumer into paying their debt. FTC regulations exclusively forbid debt collectors from making such contact. The regulations say a debt collector can only speak with the consumer and any legal representative they may have about the debt.
Protecting Your Rights
If you believe a debt collector is utilizing illegal collection practices, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The first step is to keep a call log of all collection activity. You can also send the debt collector a certified written letter requesting they stop all communication with you. If this does not stop the harassment, you may have to hire an attorney to fight for your rights.
Filing bankruptcy may also be an option to stop the creditor harassment. Once you file bankruptcy, your creditors are forbidden to make any contact with you for the duration of your bankruptcy case. When your bankruptcy is completed, most of your debts should be discharged (paid). This effectively eliminates the reason for debt collectors to contact you.
Regardless of the method you use, you need to fight against debt collector harassment. Do not let them continue adding unnecessary stress to your life. You have rights and bankruptcy attorneys in Alabama can help! Contact us for a free evaluation!