Putting an End to Debt Collector Harassment
Anyone can fall behind on their bills. And creditors certainly have the right to let you know that you are behind on payment and to ascertain whether you intend to pay your bills at all. But creditors do not have the right to harass you in any of the following ways:
- Using foul or obscene language
- Calling before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm
- Telling a third party that you have a debt — someone besides your spouse or the attorney you hired to deal with the collections agency
- Threatening violence or harm
- Repeatedly using the phone to annoy someone — e.g., calling every few minutes when you don't answer the phone
- Publishing a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts
- Lying about anything: misrepresenting the amount of money you owe, falsely claiming to work for the government or a credit reporting company, falsely claiming to be an attorney, telling you that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt, misleading you about whether papers are legal forms, etc.
- Depositing a post-dated check early
- Taking or threatening to take your property unless it can be done legally
- Contacting you by postcard
The Federal Trade Commission — in charge of protecting consumers — recommends you speak with the debt collector at least once, and then if you have nothing further to say and do not want to be contacted again, send a registered, return receipt letter stating as much. This does not stop the creditor from pursuing legal action against you to collect your debt.
Another way to stop collector harassment is to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, who can either work directly with your individual creditors to settle your debts or help you file bankruptcy, which makes it illegal for creditors to contact you at all.