If you’re like many people, you’ve been harassed by a debt collector – but you may not even know it.
How do you identify harassment by a debt collector, and what laws are in place to protect you?
Find out now.
What is Harassment by a Debt Collector?
Debt collectors harass people in many ways, including through repetitious phone calls, using obscene language on the phone, or threatening to harm you. It’s important to know that even if you don’t mind the obscene language or you can hold your own against threats, what this type of debt collector is doing can still constitute harassment.
How to Tell if a Debt Collector is Harassing You
A debt collector may be harassing you if he or she:
- Calls you repeatedly with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass you (or anybody else who might answer the phone)
- Uses profane or obscene language
- Threatens you with violence or harm
- Publishes a list of people who they claim owe them money
- Calls you without telling you who he or she is
If you feel like the debt collector is acting like a bully over the phone, that’s another sign that he or she is harassing you.
What to Do if a Debt Collector is Harassing You
If you believe a debt collector is harassing you, don’t panic. Know that debt collectors sometimes work on commission – that means if a debt collector gets you to pay your debt, he or she will receive a portion of the money.
When you’re dealing with a harassing debt collector, the best thing you can do is to keep a level head. Remember that what he or she is doing may be illegal, and it’s up to you to stay calm so you can document everything. With that said:
- Listen to what they tell you, and write it all down.
- Ask for proof.
- Don’t make any promises.
- Don’t try to intimidate the debt collector.
It’s important that you stay cool – if you lose your temper, the debt collector might come back later and say that he or she was only practicing “self-defense” by swearing at you or threatening you.
Always assume that every collection call is being recorded. Let the debt collector get riled up, but don’t feed into it – he or she will become frustrated, and you won’t.
See 5 Ways to Push Back Against Debt Collectors for more ideas on what to do if a debt collector is harassing you.
Asking for Proof
Once your debt collector has contacted you, he or she has five days from that contact to provide you with information on:
- The amount of the debt
- What creditor you actually owe
In many cases, collection agencies buy debt from larger companies. Let’s say you owed your cellular provider $400. A collection agency might buy that debt and your contact information from your cell phone provider and try to collect it. You would no longer owe your cellular provider that money, but most likely, you now owe it to the collection agency.
What Laws Protect You From Debt Collector Harassment?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, protects you from debt collector harassment. Under this law, you could be eligible to sue the debt collector for violations. In some cases, debt collectors have to pay attorney’s fees – and sometimes, the debt collection agency has to pay damages.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Harassment by a Debt Collector?
If you believe you’ve been harassed by a debt collector, you could have legal recourse.
Call us at 818-659-8324 or contact us online for a free case review. We’ll look over the facts and determine whether a debt collector likely violated your rights immediately.