Q&A: How can I get a creditor to stop harassing me? What are my rights?

 

”Debt collectors are harassing me, I know I have rights, I am just not sure what they are… How do I get a debt collector to stop contacting me and how do I know if what they are doing is legal?”

Yes, you can stop a debt collector from contacting you.  If the calls keep coming and you can’t ignore them anymore, there are several effective methods that we use to get the calls and contact to stop. Sometimes though, this is a difficult process since creditors now have many overseas call centers.  I would suggest writing a letter to the creditor stating that you no longer like to be contacted by phone.   Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has strict guidelines about what debt collectors can and can not do.   Here is a list of things that debt collectors CAN NOT do:

Debt collectors may not:

•           give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;

•           send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or

•           use a false name

•          call before 8:00am or after 9:00pm

Debt collectors also may not state that:

• you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;

• they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or

• such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action, or;

  • falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
  • misrepresent the amount of your debt;
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.

Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt.  A few examples of unfair practices are:

•collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge;

•deposit a post-dated check prematurely;

•use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;

•take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; or

•contact you by postcard.

Lastly, debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • use threats of violence or harm;
  • publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
  • use obscene or profane language

 

Please note that even if the calls stop, the debt still exists and is growing!  Although these calls can be annoying don’t allow yourself to ignore the debt all together.  Make sure the collector is using  fair practices and if they are not please report them to the FTC.  You may also want to file a complaint with your state’s attorney general and the Better Business Bureau. However, the best bet is to seek out a professional who can help you resolve these matters quickly.

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