Virginia residents who owe money to credit card companies, hospitals or other creditors may have their debts sold to collection agencies. Those agencies may then attempt to contact a debtor by mail or phone. While it is legal to apply pressure to debtors, they are not allowed to threaten or harass them. For instance, a debt collector cannot threaten to file a lawsuit unless there are legitimate plans to take a matter to court.
It is also illegal for someone trying to collect a debt to threaten to have a debtor taken into custody for nonpayment of a past due balance. Debt collectors may not call individuals before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If an a debtor has hired an attorney, a debt collection agency must contact the attorney instead of the client. Individuals representing a debt collection company must refrain from using profane language when talking to an individual over the phone or by text message.
Those who feel as if their rights have been violated may want to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It may be possible to file a complaint with the CFPB either online or by phone. Alternatively, individuals may want to contact the state attorney general to file a complaint or to learn more about their rights.
Generally speaking, debtors are entitled to a stay of creditor contact after their petitions have been accepted. Therefore, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be an effective way for individuals to put an end to debt collection letters and phone calls. It may also put an end to a proposed lawsuit or other actions that a creditor may have been contemplating. An attorney may help an individual navigate the bankruptcy process.