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Protecting Yourself from Debt Collector Harassment

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Baltimore, MDEven when people legitimately owe money, there are rules preventing debt collector harassment and other threatening or misleading ways for collectors to recover that money. When collectors violate those laws, consumers can file a debt collector lawsuit, even if the debtor legitimately owes the money sought by the collector. Consumers must know their rights to protect themselves from bill collector harassment and other unethical collection practices.

Consumers are protected from debt collection harassment by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov). The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it illegal for debt collectors to be abusive, unfair or deceptive in their attempts to collect money from consumers.

Debts that are covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are personal, family and household debts. These would include mortgages, personal credit card accounts and personal loans. Entities that are bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are debt collectors - people or organizations who regularly collect on third-party debts.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits certain activities on the part of the debt collector. For example, it prohibits the debt collector from making calls outside of certain hours and from making harassing phone calls. There are also limitations on when a debt collector can contact someone else about a person’s debt.

The collector can contact an attorney if the attorney represents the person who owes the debt. Beyond that, the collector can only contact other people to find out where the person who owes the debt lives, what his or her phone number is and where he or she works.

Debt collectors are also not allowed to use obscene language, make threats of harm or falsely represent themselves as government representatives. Finally, they cannot threaten to arrest the debtor, or seize or garnish property or wages unless they are legally allowed to.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a person who has been a victim of illegal debt collector practices can file a lawsuit against the collector in state or federal court, but the lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date the illegal act occurred. If the court finds that the debt collector acted illegally, the collector can be forced to pay damages incurred as a result of the illegal act. Even if a debt collector acted illegally, if the collector was collecting on a legitimate debt, the debtor must still pay what is owed.

Recently, The Better Business Bureau (4/26/13) issued information about a debt collection company accused of threatening and harassing behavior. The agency reportedly received almost 60 complaints in 36 months about the company. Those complaints included threats of jail and lawsuits against debtors, and taking money from accounts without permission.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I have been harassed by wells fargo for maybe 2 years now. they call 24-7 & I mean mornings @ 7:00am then 8...9...10...11am...then comes noon...then 1pm...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10...11pm so all through the early morning then afternoon then till late of nite I believe the lastest has been 11pm & I don't have to deal with the phones calls once a week, once a day, because I have to deal with the harassment everyday,every hour, wells fargo would call from a # that said wells fargo then after about 1 year passed then now they call from an Oregon #. ive answered the phone & they were the rudest people. they have made my life along with my daughters life a constent hell! I am still as to today still receiving calls on schedule pretty much hourly! thank you for any & all help that arises from my post, any info into stopping these in-humane people will be greatly appreciated. thank you & god-bless

Posted by

on
had a time warner account that went to collections without being notified.recieved phone call saying I owed 93.00.
18.00 for the service and 75 for a modem.

Before I left nc I asked If I needed to return modem and was told no take it with you.when you arrive in Colorado you can use it there.
moved to Colorado and found out that timewarner cable is in no relation to Comcast. Had many conversations That I have on email about how they were going to send me a fed ex label to send the modem back.Never received a fed ex label.went to fed ex and sent modem back.
payed 18.03 for the service .I have tracking #s and emails of time warner cable.This has been taken care of and is being reported on my credit and collection.I have the canceled check were they received the money and the tracking # of the shipment on the modem.

Posted by

on
I have gotten numerous calls from companies that when I was able to send them something they did no want to work with me.
Now they are harassing me.

Posted by

on
I received harassing calls from debt collectors re:
* Bills I disputed and therefore REFUSED to pay for good reason
* Bills my adult disabled daughter incurred & gave my phone # as
a reference

At the moment, these calls have ceased since I reported them.
If you have a class action suit vs. the co. described above, please provide me w/ their name and/or phone # so I can reference it in my files & join the class action if I was harassed by this co.

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