Consumers have rights when debt collectors cross the line
Being in debt is a stressful situation with which millions of Americans find themselves struggling. Even though the economy, employment rates and housing market are showing signs of improvement, the toll that the recession took on many people has lingered on and made it all but impossible to get back on their feet.
Unfortunately, the situation is only made worse by one industry that seems to be booming: debt collection. People who are in debt and unable to keep up with payments often find themselves feeling even more scared and alone when they are repeatedly and aggressively hounded by debt collectors.
In an article on our website, we reported that thousands of people have pursued after being targeted and harassed by debt collectors. In that article, which can be read by clicking here, we discuss how common it is for people to be threatened, harassed, lied to and misled by debt collectors. According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 230,000 complaints have been formally filed with federal agencies regarding creditor harassment.
Because of how harassing debt collectors can be, it can be easy to forget that there are strict laws in place that dictate what they can and cannot do. For example, debt collectors generally:
- Cannot knowingly contact people at inconvenient or unusual hours
- Cannot contact a person’s employer
- Cannot lie about the amount of debt owed or actions that may be taken to collect the debt
- Cannot issue threats
- Must identify themselves when calling
- Must communicate with a person’s attorney if one has been retained
- Must cease all collection efforts when the debt is paid or a person has filed for bankruptcy
Violations of these and many other rules could result in civil penalties for the debt collector among other consequences, which is why filing a complaint can be effective.
But for the person being harassed, it can be enormously important to just get the harassment to stop. Whether the collection practices are lawful or not, they can be very aggressive, leaving people frustrated, scared and stressed out.
Speaking with an attorney can be the first step toward putting an end to creditor harassment. An attorney can help people understand their rights and explain their options for stopping the harassment and getting out of debt, both of which may be achieved by filing for bankruptcy.