If you’re facing debt harassment, you’re not alone; it’s an issue that affects millions of people throughout the United States. However, you and your family members don’t have to put up with the abuse either. State and federal laws protect your rights when companies attempt to collect a debt from you.
Knowing and exercising these rights can help you avoid further issues. So take these three simple steps and put an end to debt collector harassment:
Step 1. Know Your Rights Under the FDCPA
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlaws any actions or language that constitute debt harassment, abuse, or oppression. These protections extend to telephone, mail, and email communications.
Our federal and state regulations also require them to act professionally at all times, including no telephone calls before 8 am and after 9 pm in your local time zone.
Step 2. Gather Evidence of Illegal Activity
The next step you should take is writing down any instances of illegal behavior. Then, even if you aren’t sure that it’s illegal, you can at least make a record to reference their behavior in the future.
Write down information such as:
- Threatening to arrest you
- Calling all hours of the night
- Using profane or obscene language
- Asking you to pawn personal belongings
- Requesting your bank login credentials
- Telling you to get a second or third job
- Other offensive statements
Preserve this information to use as evidence in case harassment levels escalate. You’ll want to establish a pattern of behavior that speaks to the facts and circumstances of your situation.
Step 3. Send a Cease Communications Letter
A Cease Communications letter is a letter you send to collectors when asking them to contact you no longer. You can offer a reason why you don’t want to be in contact anymore. However, it’s not necessary. The only information they need to recognize is that you don’t like to receive telephone calls or mail about the debt.
Upon receipt, collectors may only contact you once more to confirm they’ve received it. After that, they must stop all communications with you. Otherwise, it’s an FDCPA violation.
As such, you could have a valid civil case against them for the harassment. But, unfortunately, a Cease Communications letter doesn’t erase the debt. You must still pay it off or successfully dispute it to put it behind you.
If you don’t face your debt, the collection agency could still sue you in civil court regardless of whether you sent a Cease Communications letter.
Get Legal Help to Stop Debt Harassment
The most direct way to stop debt harassment by collectors is by getting legal help from a debtor’s rights lawyer. It’s also worth noting that they can’t hold the fact that you hired an attorney while potentially still owing a debt to them. You have a right to a lawyer when navigating issues that affect your legal rights.