When debts go unpaid in Virginia, the original creditors often pass these bills off to debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to third-party collection agencies. The law imposes a lengthy list of prohibited activities, which could represent harassment if violated. Well-informed debtors could recognize these unacceptable actions and resist harassment by citing their legal rights.
When communicating with debt collectors, debtors should keep records of the telephone calls and written correspondence. The notes could provide evidence of illegal conduct and help people defend their rights. Collectors should not call outside the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., use abusive language or threaten to report inaccurate information to a credit agency. Debtors have a right to send written notice to debt collectors instructing them to cease communications. The law requires collectors to respect these requests.
In addition, debtors do not have to tolerate collectors calling their places of employment. The law might view excessive calls or texts as harassment as well. Debtors have the additional right to demand verification of a debt when collectors initially call. Collection agencies must then provide written documentation about the debt before they can resume communications.
An attorney could provide more specific information about conduct that crosses legal lines. With legal assistance, one could select a strategy for getting debts under control. An attorney’s analysis of the client’s income and debts might show that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy could provide relief. During the filing process, an attorney could manage communications with creditors and the court and insulate the client from continued harassment.