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Harassment on the part of bill collectors is a common phenomenon now in the United States. It is estimated that close to 15 percent of Americans are receiving debt collection telephone calls. If you are having trouble with debts and collection calls, don't think you are the only person with this kind of problem.
FDCPA or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it illegal for bill collectors to be abusive or unfair or to lie when they attempt to collect a debt. This is a federal law, and it applies to collection agencies, attorneys and any company that purchases delinquent bills or debts. This act also apples to consumer debt (credit card debt), auto loans, mortgages and medical debt for the individual or household. Individual states may have provisions for extra protection from collection harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to businesses and their debts, only to individuals.
The simple answer is no. The debt collector may not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They may not contact your place of employment if they has been informed that you may not receive calls there. Also, they must stop calling if you send a cease communication letter which asks that the collection calls stop.
The debt collector may not contact friends or relatives about your debt or even that an attempt is being made to collect a debt. They can call neighbors to find out your whereabouts. If you have retained an attorney, they may legally call that lawyer rather than contacting you.
The debt collector may not threaten you in this way although many collection agents use this ploy. This is illegal, but many collectors will threaten arrest anyway. In addition, debt collectors may not misrepresent their identities and say they are lawyers or represent the government in some way. They may not say they represent a credit reporting agency or service. Also, a collection agent may not say there will be legal action brought against the individual if that action will not actually be happening.
A collection agent may not be abusive. For instance, they may not threaten bodily harm or any other kind of violence. they may not swear or make repeated phone calls. Also, they may not inflate the amount of money owed or say pay checks will be garnished unless the law states the collector can garnish your wages. Also, the collection agent must actually intend to do so.
You have 30 days to dispute it if you are informed of the amount and are told who the current creditor is. If you doubt that you owe anything, that the amount is wrong or that you owe nothing to that particular creditor, then you are entitled to a written notice of debt. This validation notice will give you information about your rights to dispute the debt in question.
By letter, you can inform the collection agent to stop contacting you. Send the letter by certified mail, and get a return receipt from the post office. If possible, send the letter by both fax and mail. While this action should stop the phone calls from the collection agent, the collection process will continue. After the agent gets the letter, they may call you one final time to say another action, such as a lawsuit, will be taken to collect the outstanding debt.
The best way to stop this kind of harassment regarding the collection of a debt is to file for bankruptcy. This action stops all collection efforts such as letters, lawsuits and telephone calls. If this action is violated in any way, the collectors may be subject to serious monetary penalties or other legal actions.
Before an individual files for bankruptcy, they should secure the help of an experienced Bankruptcy attorney. Proper legal advice is invaluable when dealing with debt collection and bankruptcy proceedings of any kind.
If you decide to retain a bankruptcy attorney to represent you in these serious financial matters, debt collectors are required by law to speak through your attorney and not to you directly. If you are in the situation where you are harassed by debt collectors, contact the Cornwell Law Firm as soon as possible for a consultation on bankruptcy. Don't delay, and get the help and protection you are entitled to by law.