If you are getting harassed by debt collectors, the collector may be in violation of the Fair Debt Consumer Practices Act (FDCPA). The Fair Debt Consumer Practices Act protects consumers from unfair debt collection practices. Constant harassment from debt collectors can cause emotional and physical stress, which is a personal injury. Here is how to handle a debt collector who violates the FDCPA.
Know What Constitutes a Violation of FDCPA
A debt collector that is mildly annoying doesn't make a strong case. The debt collector must be in direct violation of FDCPA to bring a case against them. Violations of FDCPA include:
- Calling consumer before 8.am or after 9.p.m
- Using threatening or profane language
- Continually calling multiple times daily
- Contacting employers, neighbors, friends, or relatives about your debt
- Not complying with the Automatic Stay applied to a bankruptcy
- Including your name in a 'bad debt' list
- Falsifying information on your credit report
Send a "Cease and Desist" Letter
Send a "Cease and Desist" letter, if the debt has passed the statute of limitations, which gives debt collectors a limited time period to sue. Be aware a "Cease and Desist" letter does not absolve you of the debt, even after the statute of limitations has expired. The collector still can contact you about the debt.
Contact the Government Agencies
Document all illegal actions of the debt collector by having another person present when they call, or logging the calls. You will need this documentation to send the FTC. Don't record calls unless it is legal in your state.
List the original creditor, time and date of calls, witness names,written communications, and call recordings in your complaint. Also include medial reports linking the harassing calls to physical stress. Send a copy of the complaint to the creditor. The creditor may decide to cancel the debt or negotiate to avoid a costly lawsuit.
File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The CFPA sends complaints to the creditor, and they often work out a solution on your behalf.
Sue the Debt Collector
Sue the debt collector when no other remedy works. If you would rather represent yourself in court, consider suing the collector in a small claims court. The amount of damages you can recover in small claims court is usually limited, but you still may be entitled to $1000, even without enough evidence
Don't stand for debt collector harassment. It is possible to handle some cases of debt collector harassment pro se. However, it pays to have a personal injury attorney represent you to present a strong case, or if you prefer to sue in state court laws.