If you are in debt, you may have debt collectors contacting you on a consistent basis. As pesky as some of them may be, some typical ways a collector may try to reach you may in fact be illegal. You have legal protections in place from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law outlining what debt collectors can and cannot do. Threats, fake collecting, invasive phone calls, and wrongly directed calls can all constitute harassment. Other aggravating actions a collector makes can actually be legal—but only under the right circumstances. It would be beneficial to understand which is which, and what you can do about it.
According to the FDCPA, collectors cannot make false threats. Collectors might be telling you that you could face jail time if you do no pay up. They may be threatening to take out a portion of your wages or savings, and they may promise you a lawsuit unless you comply. The thing is, you will not be jailed for failing to pay a debt. This threat is a lie, and so is an illegal action. If the collector has yet to obtain a judgment against you, then the threat of wage garnishment is also false. A lawsuit from a collection agency is possible, but it is a remote possibility. It is more likely that this threat too is a false, and thus illegal.
Even if you do owe debt to someone, there is a chance that a collector who is hounding you is not even legitimate. There are false collectors out there, trying to rip people off, especially to take advantage of the elderly. Calls from these frauds can be especially effective when you are already receiving notifications from real creditors. As a rule, you should never give out personal information to any collectors. They instead ought to furnish you with the names and addresses of the original creditor and collection agency. If a collector sounds phony, ask for the contact information and send a letter telling him or her to stop calling and to only write to you.
Invasive Phone Calls
While any phone calls at all from a collector may feel like harassment, not all of them actually are. Harassment involves phone calls at rude times, such as after 9 p.m. and before 8 a.m., or during a mealtime. If you receive a call on a holiday, or at a workplace where you are not allowed to receive personal calls, then this too constitutes harassment. Foul language and yelling are further illegal methods of collecting debt.
You can tell collectors to stop calling or contacting you, and they must comply, except for under specific circumstances. For example, a collector can establish contact with you again to let you know that collection has stopped, or to alert you that you are being sued. This can be a huge relief to stop all those calls and notices in the mail, but it does mean that a lawsuit can come out of nowhere if you are not regularly updated.
Calling Third Parties (such as Your Friends and Family)
It can feel invasive when a collector contacts your spouse, relatives, neighbors, and friends, but it is sometimes legal. The collector can call to determine where you are. A collector is strictly limited in what can be said to and what can be asked of a third party, as the collector is forbidden to mention anything regarding your debt. He or she can only contact each third party once, unless something new crops up. If you want this contact to third parties to stop, then you can write a letter asking that the collector stop. Hold on to a copy of this letter, in case you need evidence to file a complaint with the agency.
Failure to Stop Calling
As already mentioned, you can take action if a collector keeps calling you or any third party when you have specifically asked for this to stop. There is an additional way in which a collector can fail to abide by FDCPA, and that is if he or she calls you when your attorney should be getting the call instead. If a collector knows that you have retained an attorney, then he or she should no longer be calling you. The first time you are called, you can give your attorney's name and contact information to the collector. After that, you will want to keep record of any calls you receive, so as to document this illegal action.
As you can see, you have numerous recourse to protect your rights. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact one of the Detroit bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of Marshall D. Schultz. When you are looking into bankruptcy, or any alternatives, you find the astute legal counsel you need at our firm. We may also be able to help you if you face a lawsuit or any trouble with creditors. To find out if you can benefit from our excellent services, fill out our free case evaluation, and contact our firm today for your free consultation.