How Do I Know If I'm Being Illegally Harassed?
It is unlikely that you will become an “expert” in all the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Act or the many variations of debt collection harassment. But you should become familiar with the most common violations committed by collectors:
- Calling before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm;
- Contacting you at work after they have been advised not to;
- Contacting your friends or family and giving them information about your account;
- Threatening to take your home or evict you immediately.
There are also collection tactics and threats that are less common and overlooked by potential victims. Below is a partial list of these practices, which are classified as violating both the spirit and the letter of the law.
A creditor or 3rd party collection firm is prohibited from:
- Threatening arrest or imprisonment for a criminal act because you have late payments on a debt;
- Contacting the Department of Homeland Security about your citizen/alien status;
- Selling your account to another company (which they often also own) just prior to being barred from collecting because time has run out for the purpose of continuing collection activities;
- Threatening to call you "everyday until your account is paid in full;"
- Reporting your vehicle as a "stolen" car because you missed one or more of your auto loan payments;
- Filing (or even threatening to file) criminal NSF (not sufficient funds) charges against you for a post dated check that the collection agency asked you to send to them;
- Representing himself/herself as an attorney when, in fact, he/she is not;
- Making any threats targeted or phrased to “demoralize, degrade, embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate” you into making payments on your debt.
Finally, even if you become knowledgeable, you should know that the Fair Debt Collection Act subscribes to the “ Least Sophisticated Consumer Standard”
for judging potential violations. This means that, even though you would never believe one or more of the threats noted above, if the court believes that anyone (not everyone) anywhere might believe
that they could be arrested and jailed for having late payments on a $325.00 credit card balance, you have an excellent chance of winning a suit against an over aggressive collector.
Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions
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