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Debt and Bill Collector Harassment
There are three pieces of federal legislation to protect consumers from invasive debt collectors. Those are the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Together, these statutes set out when debt collectors can contact debtors, how they can contact debtors and what action they can legally take against consumers who owe money.
Debt Collector Harassment Laws
Among areas that are governed are the hours a debt collector can call, who the debt collector can call - calls to non-debtors, such as family members, are illegal - and activities that constitute threatening or repeated phone calls. Violations of these federal laws can result in statutory fines, which can run up to $500 to $1,000 per occurrence of a prohibited act.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act sets out how the debt collector must conduct him or herself when contacting the consumer. It is illegal for the debt collector to contact the debtor at any time that is known to be inconvenient to the debtor or anytime outside the hours of 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM. It is also illegal to discuss the debtor's information with third parties without the debtor's consent. Furthermore, it is illegal to harass, oppress or abuse consumers while attempting to collect on a debt. This includes the use or threat of violence, the use of obscene or profane language, or repeatedly calling the consumer with the intent to harass him.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a consumer whose credit has been wrongfully lowered can seek to recover based on the number of points their credit was lowered. Furthermore, the consumer can also seek injunctive relief to raise his or her credit score back to the point it would have been at if not for the negligent reporting.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
This can be especially important to consumers who are wrongly accused of owing money and are then reported to credit agencies based on that non-existent debt.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act makes it illegal for an organization or person - without the consent of the called party - to use an automatic telephone dialing system or artificial prerecorded voice to contact a cell phone. Giving the cell phone as the contact phone number is considered consent to having them call the cell phone. Each illegal phone call is considered a violation of this legislation can result in $500 to $1,500 fines per violation.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act
There are federal and state statutes designed to protect consumers from harassing, threatening or intrusive acts. It is up to consumers, however, to protect their rights if they feel the debt collectors have violated these laws.
There are various scams debt collectors will use to harass or intimidate consumers into paying debt - even if the consumer being targeted does not actually owe that debt. Some scams include attempting to collect on an old debt - there is a statute of limitations on when a debt can be collected on; attempting to collect from a person with the same name as the debtor but who does not actually owe the debt (often referred to as debt tagging), re-aging the debt - making the debt appear more recent than it is, negatively affecting the consumer's credit score; and threatening to file criminal charges (consumer debt is not punishable in criminal court).
Types of Debt Collection Scams
Debt Collector Harassment Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered Debt Collector Harassment damages or injuries, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a Debt Collector Harassment lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
Last updated on Dec-6-13
BILL COLLECTOR ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
BBB Reports Debt Collector Harassment Complaints Up 58 Percent
Washington, DC: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is that venerable consumer group known for rating companies, businesses and corporations doing commerce in America, and in so doing providing a snapshot to the consumer of the company they’re dealing with. Lately, the BBB has begun to comment on the thorny issue of bill collector harassment [READ MORE]
Tales from the Dark Side of Debt Collection
San Jose, CA: More Americans than ever have debts they can’t pay because they lost a job or got sick, or their finances got out of hand for some reason. But as attorney Ben Dupre explains, it doesn’t mean that they need to be further victimized by the illegal tactics of unscrupulous debt collectors that try to harass people into paying up rather than take the lawful but more costly and time-consuming route through the courts [READ MORE]
New Debt Collection Regulations Under Consideration
Pittsburgh, PA: Debt collector harassment is already illegal in the United States, but laws have not stopped bill collector harassment from occurring. Every day, more people complain about being harassed by people attempting to collect on bills, regardless of whether the debts claimed are actually owed. Debt collector lawsuits have been filed, alleging consumers have been unfairly or illegally targeted, and now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is asking for input on debt collection experiences [READ MORE]
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