Stop Debt Collection Calls
No, you don’t need to file bankruptcy in order to put a stop to harassing phone calls from debt collectors. It is important to know that there are federal laws in place to protect you from harassmentthrough phone calls, letters, e-mails and the like. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) any third party who attempts to collect a consumer debt must follow certain rules. Such protection is not conditioned upon the filing of bankruptcy.
Your Creditors Cannot Legally Harass You
For example, collectors cannot engage in any conduct which serves to harass, oppress or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. If you have been subjected to threats of violence, obscene language or threats that the debt collector will publish your name on a list of someone who cannot pay their debts, it is likely that the creditor is violating the FDCPA. Other prohibited conduct includes contacting you by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00am to 9:00pm and causing your phone to ring repeatedly with the intent to harass you.
Rules Regarding Creditors Contacting Your Family and Friends
There are also rules limiting collection agent’s ability to contact your employer and third parties. Furthermore, collectors are prohibited from threatening to take any legal action, such as taking your car, if they do not actually intend to take such action or the action is prohibited by law. Finally all debt collectors must provide you with accurate information regarding your debt.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn Your Rights
It is important to contact a lawyer if you feel you have been subjected to such unfair practices. Not only can a collector disturb your daily life, but you may be entitled to money damages. Under the FDCPA you may be entitled to actual damages due to the collection agent’s behavior, attorney’s fees, and the possibility of statutory damages totaling $1000. Most importantly a lawyer can ensure that you are not subjected to any further harassment by creditors. In order to make the collection calls stop yourself, you must state in writing that you no longer wish to be contacted. Yelling at the debt collector won’t trigger the protection of the FDCPA, however, even sending a fax will satisfy the FDCPA requirement of written communication. If the calls continue after a written request to stop, the collector will be in violation of the FDCPA.
The Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy Can Help
Lastly, if you decide to file bankruptcy, it is important to know that you are also protected from similar action by debt collectors. The automatic stay goes into effect once you file for bankruptcy and bars anyone from trying to collect debt from you. The only exception to the automatic stay is debt you accrue AFTER you file for bankruptcy. However, such debt is still covered under the FDCPA and you are still protected from harassment by creditors.