For borrowers struggling to pay back debts, harassment from collection agencies only aggravates the problem. Unfair collection practices make victims feel helpless and humiliated. However, borrowers and victims of unfair debt collection have rights.
Debt collectors are allowed to attempt collection, but collection efforts often turn into harassment. The federal government mandates fair debt collection. The Fair Debt Collection Practices (FDCP) Act regulates debt collection methods and protects borrowers.
What constitutes as harassment?
Debt collector harassment comes in many forms. Common examples include obscene or profane language used by the collector and threats of violence or harm. Repetitious phone calls to you, your employer or family members intended to annoy the person answering the phone are also harassment. Other off limits practices include false statements and misrepresentation of the debt owed.
Know who you owe
The FDCP Act covers personal, family and household debts. This includes money owed towards a mortgage, medical bills and credit cards. Before attempting payment verify the debt. Collection agencies buy debt from original creditors, but the account can change hands multiple times during collection efforts. The agency must provide you with the name of the original creditor and the amount owed. Creditors violate the FDCP when they cannot validate the debt.
Stopping collection efforts
Under the FDCP, when a borrower sends a letter to the collector demanding a cease and desist of further communications the collector must comply. They are allowed to contact the borrower again to confirm the end of contact or to alert the borrower to a specific action. Stopping the communication does not get rid of the debt, but it prevents harassing contact. If the debt is resold to another collection agency or a lawyer, contact resumes and the process to stop collections begins again.
Debt collector hounding leads to additional stress for people already struggling financially. When collection agencies violate the FDCP exercise your rights to stop the harassment.