“What can I do about debt collectors harassing me?” Unfortunately in the current economic climate, a lot of people are asking this question right now. As more companies come knocking for their payments after “generous” COVID-19 deferrals, more households are finding themselves out of options and stressed beyond belief. If you are one of these households and the debt collectors have been harassing you beyond measure, we have gathered a few tips to help you to deal with the situation.
What Can I Do About Debt Collectors Harassing Me?
There are laws in place to protect consumers and to prevent collection companies from bullying and intimidation. Unfortunately, not all debt collectors are familiar with these rules and some of them are, but they just don’t care. Fortunately for you, there are consumer law advocates who are willing to stand up for your rights!
So, what should you know about debt collector harassment?
Educate Yourself on the The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The first thing you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the laws designed to protect your rights, specifically “The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).” The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says that debt collectors cannot harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact.
Collections agents who go through appropriate training are made familiar with this act (although they don’t always abide by it.) By making sure that you know your rights under the FDCPA, you can let harassing collections agents know that you know your rights and you know that they are breaking the law.
Know That Debt Collectors Cannot Use Deceitful Tactics to Force You to Pay
The law FDCPA also provides protections against the use of deceitful tactics. More specifically, a debt collector may not deceive or mislead you when attempting to settle a debt with you. For example, they may not tell you that you have broken the law by letting your payments fall behind – you have not.
Know That Debt Collectors Cannot Send You To Prison For a Debt Owed
Some debt collectors see fit to pull out the big guns and claim that they will have you sent to prison for a failure to pay debt. 1883 saw the end of debtors prisons! The truth is that simply falling behind on a payment does not mean that you can be arrested…if it did, can you imagine the overcrowding?
You should know, however, that a creditor can sue you for the payment they are owed. If you fail to appear in court for this case, the court can issue an arrest warrant for failure to appear.
Know That Debt Collectors Cannot Call You Every Hour of the Day
Strict regulations determine when a debt collector may and may not call you to collect on their debt. A debt collector may only call you between the hours of 8am and 9pm.
You Can Tell Them to Stop Communicating With You
Under the Fair Debt and Credit Collections Practices Act, you have the right to request that a debt collector cease communication with you. To request a stop to all communication, send a cease and desist letter to the debt collector. A word of warning, though, a cease and desist notice will stop ALL communications from the debt collector. This “radio silence” means that you will have no idea what the debt collection agency is doing with your account, for example, you will not have advanced notice that the collector intends on taking you to court.
Changes to the FDCPA set to go into effect in November, 2021, will also allow you to request that the debt collector cease a specific method of contact. For example, you might request that they “stop calling.” This means that the collector can still communicate with you about your account through traditional mail. The benefit to this is that you get rid of those annoying phone calls, but you are still aware of what is happening with your account.
Know That You Have Options When Being Harassed By A Debt Collector
In an ideal situation, everything would be handled with professionalism, but sometimes things just don’t work out that way. If you experience harassment from a debt collector and despite you calmly acknowledging that their behavior is in breach of the FDCPA, they continue to harass you, know that you have options.
For example –
- With the aid of a consumer rights attorney, you may be able to use the behavior of the debt collector (more specifically their breach of the FDCPA) as a means to negotiate your debt with them.
- You can take the collector to small claims court.
- You can report the collector to a government agency for their behavior.
- You can report the collector to the state attorney general for their behavior.
Know That There is a Statute of Limitations
There is a statute of limitations on your debt which means that a collector only has a specific period of time during which they can sue you for a debt. This time period is set by the state – in Florida, this period is usually five years. So, if you live in Florida and have a debt and the creditor attempts to sue you for that debt six years after you defaulted, they will not be able to go through with the case.
You should know, however, that if you make a payment on the account when a creditor calls you, you may be resetting the clock on the statute of limitations by making the account “active” again. It is best to consult an attorney in this type of situation BEFORE taking any type of action yourself.
Are Debt Collectors Harassing You?
If debt collectors are harassing you and you don’t know what to do next, Weidner Law may be able to help. We specialize in consumer law and take a stand against aggressive collectors that don’t play by the rules. To see how we could help you, call our office today at 727-954-8752.