Collection Agency Laws: Harassment of Debtors
Collection agencies are restricted in how they can go about debt collection by the Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act. It may seem like a creditor is harassing you with constant phone calls when in truth they have restrictions on contact. However, there are remedies for debtors if a collector is breaking the law.
What Constitutes Harassment by a Collection Agency
A collector has to follow the laws that are outlined by the FDCPA. Unfortunately violations occur on a regular basis as this is not an area that is highly regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Keep a log if you suspect any of the following rules are being broken.
- Contacting a family member other than a spouse more than once. Phone calls to family members are restricted to a single attempt. The only information that they can obtain is to confirm name and contact information. Any discussion of a debt with them is illegal.
- Contact at work is only possible if the employer allows it. If the employer does not want the calls coming into their business, debt collection efforts must cease.
- There can be no threatening of lawsuits. An empty threat by the collector is illegal. If a lawsuit is mentioned, they must be willing to go through with the action.
- Telephone contact is limited to between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm local time. Any phone calls that are made outside of this time frame is a violation.
- Ceasing all form of contact unless it is for legal action. This must be done in writing by the debtor and should be mailed in with some form of return receipt for proof of mailing. Make a note in the log if the collector calls after the letter was mailed and a return receipt was obtained.
- A collector must supply a validation of debt within five days of their first contacting you. They must include the name of the original creditor in the letter.
- Attorney contact only. If a debtor has hired an attorney, they must notify the creditor of the fact and supply the phone number. Any further contact is to be made with the lawyer only.
What to do When a Debt Collector Violates The FDCPA
A debtor is entitled to up to $1000 in damages even when they can't prove any damages. All legal and attorneys fees are to be reimbursed as well, making it a good idea to hire a lawyer for this kind of situation. While suing a debt collection agency won't make the debt go away, it will stop the harassment. This is one of those times when it's beneficial to have a debt settlement lawyer working on your behalf.