Creditors can take action to recover their money if you have unpaid debts and this intent is not illegal by itself. However, if the steps taken to recover the debt amount to harassment or cause you trauma, then you have the right to put an end to it.
What is harassment by creditors?
Sending reminders for their dues, calling you for the purpose of recovering the debt during working hours or even taking court action are technically not illegal. Creditors have the right to recover their money owed.
However, if creditors’ behavior includes the following actions, it could be seen as harassment, which you have the right to put a stop to:
– Contacting you any odd hour of the day, including early morning and late night
– Not informing you that your debt has been transferred to a collection agency
– Threatening you, either verbally or physically
– Not acknowledging it if you deny the debt; persisting with their collection practices
– Suggesting or pressuring you to get another loan or sell your existing assets to meet your dues
– Showing you false documents that look like court orders or legal papers to pressure you
– Telling you that your debt liability is a criminal offense or implying that your assets can be taken away from you as part of legal action against you
– Giving you the impression that legal action has been taken against you already
– Informing others about your debt directly or asking them to pass on the message for you
– Contacting you on social networking sites like Facebook
As a consumer, what can you do?
You need to start keeping a record of the calls or contacts made. As a consumer, you have rights that protect you from this harassment. However, ideally, you need to get in touch with a legal professional to help you understand what would work for your case against the creditors’ behavior and how best to stop the harassment immediately.
A legal professional can guide you on how to start building your case while also helping educate you on how best to deal with creditors until the harassment is brought to a full stop.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) puts down certain behaviors by debt collectors that are not acceptable. If collectors indulge in these, legal action can be taken against them:
– Collectors cannot harass or abuse the consumer
– Make repeated calls or use obscene or profane language
– Make threats of violence
– Make public the names of people who have debts unpaid
– Make calls but not identify themselves
The FDCPA allows for certain practices such as:
– Contacting friends or relatives or neighbors of a debtor to learn only about how to contact the debtor
– During this call, they cannot reveal the purpose of the call nor their own identity
– They can call the debtor after 9 p.m., provided they have agreed to it previously
– Violations of the FDCPA can cause lawsuits to be filed and the consumer can win damages, including monetary damage.
Similarly, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA also has guidelines on what constitutes legal debt collection practices. The TCPA also regulates the use of calls through automated equipment or what is also termed as robocalling. The TCPA prohibits calling debtors unless there is written consent from them. Violations to the TCPA can attract as much as $500 in monetary damages per incident. In case the violation is found to be willful, this can increase as much as by three times.