Is that harassing creditor violating debt collection laws?
Many people in Georgia have likely experienced a less-than-friendly debt collector. Whether you are overwhelmed with credit card debt or stuck with an extremely expensive medical bill because of an injury or illness, debt collectors can be ruthless in their attempts to collect unpaid debts. As a consumer, however, it is important to understand when a debt collector has crossed the line by violating the law.
In Georgia and throughout the country, consumers are protected by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This piece of legislation outlines acceptable ways that debt collectors can interact with consumers as well as debt collection practices that are unlawful.
One of the most important things to understand is that debt collectors cannot harass you. Under the law, this means that they can’t use unsavory language toward you, threaten you with violence or other illegal behaviors, make it known to others that you owe money, or call you repeatedly and relentlessly in an effort to harass or annoy you.
A debt collector must also be forthcoming with you. He or she must not mislead you in any way as to how much you owe or who is trying to collect money from you. It is also illegal for debt collectors to misrepresent themselves in an effort to get you to talk to them or pay money.
Finally, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from contacting you at inappropriate times or in inappropriate ways. This means before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. or contacting your office if personal calls are not allowed.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act encompasses much more than what we’ve just described, but hopefully this overview will help you determine whether a debt collector is violating your rights. It is important to know, as well, that one way to stop harassing phone calls is to work with an attorney. Once you have an attorney, a debt collector is not allowed to contact you, only your lawyer.
Source: Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, “Debt Collectors,” March 25, 2014