The more people that face financial difficulties in a troubled economy, the more will face debt collectors who may be difficult and harassing, but there are FDCPA guidelines to protect debtors from harassment. Debtors must be aware of these guidelines, however, and know how to pursue justice and stop debt collector harassment when they step over the line.
The FDCPA is the federal Fair Dept Collection Practices Act, which provides specific regulations with which third party collection agencies must comply. Those regulations govern every type of action a collection agency could take that would constitute harassment and specifically prohibits them. These regulations do not apply to original creditors, but third party creditors only. Those are agencies that work on a contingency basis to collect the debts owed to original creditors. If none of the debt is collected, the agency is generally paid nothing. Therefore, it is in their interests to exert any amount of pressure they can to force payment. It is up to debtors to put a stop to those practices that are illegal and fall into the category of harassment. Those prohibited actions include:
When a collection agency fails to comply with the FDCPA guidelines, there are steps that a debtor can take to protect their rights. However, it is generally not effective to attempt these efforts after just one act of harassment. The debtor should document the phone calls and letters they receive from the collection agency and show a pattern of abuse before proceeding to the following steps:
(See more on what to do if your being harassed by debt collection agencies).
While the guidelines in the FDCPA are very clear, that does not mean that filing a complaint or lawsuit is always easy. If the lawsuit fails, the debtor may be required to pay the attorney's fees of the collection agency and court costs, making their debt situation even worse. It may be wise to consult a consumer protection lawyer to assess their case and help them compile a strong one before they decided whether they have grounds to take the collection agency to court.