Being financially burdened is one of the most terrible situations one can go through. You take loans to cover other loans, you save money and use it for paying off the debts, but the hardship doesn’t seem to end. And things get even more complicated when the lenders and other creditors send the debt collectors to you.
But sometimes these collectors come even harder than the law allows them to. Statistics show that harassing debt collecting actions have caused people to lose their jobs, homes and even families. So, how can you protect yourself from abusive debt collecting practices?
Know The Law
Consumers, even those with debts, are protected by special laws. When it comes to debt collecting, they are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Act (FDCPA). However, there is one downside to this Act – it protects solely from debt collecting agencies’ harassing behavior. If a creditor chooses to hire its private collector, the debtor is no longer protected by this Act.
Know the behavior allowed by FDCPA
If you are dealing with a debt collecting agency, watch out for actions that don’t fit under the Act’s regulations. There is a certain scenario that debt collectors should comply with and it includes:
- Introducing itself;
- Informing the debtor about the purpose of the communication;
- Offering information on the creditor’s data;
- Providing proof of the debt’s existence and amount;
- Informing on the right to dispute the debt, fully or partially.
Collectors are not allowed to:
- Continue the communication, once the debtor has asked in written to cease it and informed about the refusal to pay the debt;
- Contact the debtor at unreasonable hours, at work or contact him/her annoyingly;
- Keep contacting the customer once they have declared bankruptcy;
- Contact the debtor directly, if he/she is represented by an attorney;
- Ignore the customer’s request for debt validation and keep contacting him/her;
- Make the consumer’s identity public or introduce his/her name in a so-called Black List;
- Lie or deceive;
- Report false information to the reporting credit agencies;
- Contact the customer over media or through his/her friends or family members;
Now that you know what a debtor is allowed and prohibited to do, here is a plan of fighting back and protecting yourself from illegal collectors’ actions!
1. Write a letter to the debt collector.
The letter should be requesting the collector to stop contacting you. If the collector is a legit one, he/she will discontinue the communication.
DirectLoansLenders suggestion: Although you might be attracted by the idea of getting rid of the debt collector through a letter, it is always a good idea to deal with the debt. This unless you have filed for bankruptcy.
2. Collect proof of harassing behavior.
Make a log where you write down and include proof of the debt collector’s illegal actions. This may be photos, letters, call logs, or even witnesses’ declarations.
3. Complain to the Federal Trade Commission
Once you have all written down, send it to the Federal Trade Commission, along with a letter. Or, you may fill out the forms from the Commission. Make sure you include detailed information on the collector’s identity, agency, address, and any other relevant details. You can do it either online, on www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm, or send the complaint by post to: 6th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20580.
4. Submit a complaint to the state agency in charge of creditor’s illegal actions
Send a complaint anywhere you believe it would be relevant. This includes the creditor itself and the debt collecting agency.
DirectLoansLenders suggestion: there have been cases when the customer has managed to have the debt canceled due to his insisting complaints. Therefore, complain as much as you can!
5. Sue the collector
In case none of the above works and you are sure that the harassment is real and not a subjective opinion of yours, then you may consider suing. The good side is that you don’t have to wait for actual damages to occur before suing.
The best advice, however, is to avoid situations that would require the intervention of a debt collector. Try to be on time with all the payments, and you will need to do none of the above.References and Sources
1. How to Stop Debt Collector Harassment? Retrieved from https://bankruptcy.findlaw.com/debt-relief/how-to-stop-debt-collector-harassment.html
2. What is Harassment by a Debt Collector? Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-harassment-by-a-debt-collector-en-336/
3. How to Stop Collection Agency Harassment in 5 Steps? Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-stop-debt-collector-harassment-4107936