Many creditors and collection agencies are scrupulous about following the law, but others are guilty of severely harassing individuals who owe money. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed in order to protect indebted individuals from different kinds of harassment practices. Debt collectors can neither abuse, harass, nor oppress a person in debt or anyone else they contact in pursuit of the money owed. Here are a few behaviors that are classified as harassment, even though they seem like normal debt collection practices.
While calling a person in debt every once and a while isn't considered creditor harassment, calling several times a day can start to feel like a hounding behavior. Harassment includes multiple calls that cause a person distress. The law doesn't set a specific limit on the number of calls a debt collector can make, but excessive calls can certainly be taken as a form of harassment.
Creditors are only allowed to call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Unless you have specifically given the collector permission to call outside these hours, any calls made earlier or later will be considered harassment. Start recording every time a creditor calls you. This will ensure you have written documentation of how often the company calls, and it can be used later in court to prove harassment if necessary.
Making Threats of Legal Action
While collectors can take a person to court, they can't threaten to do so without legal authority. A debt collector or creditor cannot threaten a lawsuit, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, or ruining a person's credit rating until they take the person to court and win. Threats such as these are illegal.
Communicating Outside of Mail and Phone Calls
If a creditor uses social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to continue to attempt to collect, this behavior is harassment. Debt collectors can send letters and make calls at reasonable times during the day, but they cannot pursue a person in debt in a public forum. Not only is this harassment, but it is likely to compromise information about their debt and can compromise their privacy. Likewise, creditors cannot get friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to pass on messages.
If you've been the victim of creditor harassment, don't wait to contact a Richmond consumer rights lawyer at Bruce W. White, P.C. Our firm is experienced in representing consumers, and we're here to help you as well. We can aggressively pursue all legal options to obtain your funds. Contact us at (804) 655-0502 or fill out our online form to talk to us about your case today.