Anyone who has had the daunting task of dealing with bill collectors knows that the experience is not a pleasant one. It's hard enough just trying to stay afloat while getting the financial situation in order without having to deal with debt collectors who call at the most inopportune moments. The good thing that some individuals may not know is that there are laws that creditors and debt collectors must abide by or they may be subjected to fines.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
There are a number of protections and rights that individuals dealing with debt and creditor harassment have against creditors who constantly pursue and harass them. The purpose of the FDCPA is to protect consumers from worrisome and persistent collector contact by prohibiting various types of bill collector behaviors.
For example, the Act requires t hat debt collection communications be made during appropriate, convenient times, typically between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Additionally, unless an individual gives express permission, a bill collector cannot speak with other parties about the debt, except for that person's attorney, a credit bureau, the bill collector's attorney or the creditor's attorney.
Individuals should also know that if they notify a bill collector in writing that they want the contact to stop or that they refuse to pay the debt, the bill collector is required to end all communication with that individual, except to:
- Let the individual know that further bill collecting efforts have been terminated
- Inform the individual that the bill collector can elect to invoke certain remedies
- Notify the individual that the bill collector or creditor intends to invoke certain remedies
It should also be noted that individuals who have filed for bankruptcy protection are entitled to the protection offered by the FDCPA as well, and once a collector or creditor has been notified of that bankruptcy filing, all collection efforts must cease.
What can be done to stop the harassment
Although the persistent efforts that the collectors make to retrieve payments from individuals is not illegal, creditor harassment is, and the Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that such actions will not be tolerated.
Those who believe they are the victim of bill collector harassment should immediately write the collectors a letter asking that they stop contacting them. If the calls or contact continues, individuals should keep track of and document the illegal acts and file a complaint with the FTC. Those who would like help with dealing with menacing bill collectors may want to seek the services of a skilled attorney who has experience with dealing with collection agencies and their agents.