You might owe money on a credit card or loan, a utility or medical debt, but you still have rights against abusive debt collectors. Read more to learn about your rights.
Debt Collector Harassment
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that offers protections to consumers when collectors make contact concerning personal debts, such as credit cards, medical bills, utility bills or loans. When the law is violated, the consumer may take legal action against the collector.
Common violations of the FDCPA include:
- Misrepresentation of the debt to the consumer.
- Threats of legal action when none is intended.
- Aggressive, harassing methods are used by the collector.
- Collection contact after a consumer has filed for bankruptcy.
- Failure to report a disputed debt accurately to the credit bureaus.
Understanding the Collection Process
When a consumer seeks credit, which could be for a personal or auto loans, store credit card, payment of a medical or utility bills, etc., he or she is the borrower.
The company that provides the credit — the bank, credit union, lender, doctor’s office or utility — is called the creditor.
Third Party Collector
When the borrower falls behind on payments to the creditor, attempts are made to collect on the defaulted account. After a creditor’s internal collection efforts have been unsuccessful, the creditor may choose to assign or sell the account to a collection agency or collection law firm to continue collection.
FDCPA Protection for the Consumer
Once the debt has moved from the creditor to a collector, the FDCPA must be followed. If the collector uses tactics which violate the FDCPA, the consumer may file a lawsuit against the collector. Lawsuits pursued under the FDCPA provide for the debt collector to pay the consumer’s legal fees – whether the debt is owed or not. Beware a collector’s violating tactics, such as:
- Not providing proof of the debt
Collectors must inform the consumer with the name of the original creditor, how much is owed, and provide proof of how the debt was calculated.
- Misrepresenting the Debt
Debt collectors must be truthful. They can not misrepresent the amount of the debt, present themselves as an attorney when they are not, or threaten a lawsuit when they have no grounds to do so.
- Placing abusive calls or sending threatening letters
Collectors are not to threaten, use obscene language, speak with someone else about your debt, or place repeated phone calls that are intended to harass or abuse the consumer.
- Contacting you after you’ve hired an attorney
If you tell a debt collector that you have hired an attorney, they’re required to contact your lawyer instead of you or risk violating the FDCPA.
- Contacting you after sending aCease & Desist Letter
You may request that a collector stop contacting you. Send a Cease & Desist letter to inform the collector that calls and letters must stop. If you continue to receive communications, the collector could be in violation of the FDCPA.
Seek Legal help from a consumer lawyer.
Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm and represents consumers against abusive debt collectors. Contact us for a no cost consultations and evaluation of calls and letters that have been sent to you. We will fight in court to seek the justice you deserve.