Americans are increasingly going into debt. Unfortunately, it only takes one illness, one job loss, or one unforeseen event to put most people behind on their debts. At that point, a debt collector may start to contact you about your overdue account. While this is legal, federal and state laws protect you from harassment. Read on if you feel you are under harassment by debt collectors.
Harassment by Debt Collectors
- Threat violence or jail time
- Pretend to be a government official or an attorney
- Send letters that look like legal or governmental letters but that are not
- Say your original debt interest rate has been increased
- Speak to your employer (or family) except under limited conditions
- Send derogatory messages about you to a credit reporting agency
- Contact third parties or otherwise embarrass you, including sending info on a postcard
- Shame you by publishing your name as owing money
- Contact you between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. without your permission
- Use profanities when speaking to you
- Attempt to collect an expired debt
- Hire an unlicensed credit collection agency
- Communicate with you if you are represented by an attorney
Debt collectors often receive bonuses for every payment. It is very easy for them to go overboard in pursuit of bonuses. If you are getting collection phone calls and the caller is violating any of these conditions, what can you do? Know your rights!
Keep a log book – Take notes when speaking with a debt collector. Write down the date and time, name of the debt collector, what debt the collector is after, and what the debt collector says. Keep all mail, copies of email and texts, etc., as well. If the debt collection agency violates any rules above, note it in your log book.
DO NOT lose your temper — Calls are recorded. If you are rude to a polite debt collector, you will look bad in court. Let them be the abusive ones, then contact a debt collection harassment attorney.
Dos and Don’ts
DO tell the collector if you legitimately can’t pay — Give a short explanation and they work with you.
DO NOT give out financial information including your social security number, bank account numbers, or the value of any property (land, cars, etc) you own.
DO tell the collector if the debt is not your or is incorrect
DO NOT admit the debt is yours or promise to pay — Your promise can be a separate contract that extends the statute of limitations. Make offers of settlement but do it for “the debt,” not “my debt.”
DO give them your current contact information – If you keep them updated about your new address or phone number, the collector has less legal right to contact employers, friends, and family. If they have your address, they cannot contact anyone but you.
DO NOT make a “Good Faith” payment — This only extends the statute of limitations on your debt.
What to Do Next
If you are getting harassed, contact an attorney who specializes in debt harassment protection. Brian Hoag can help you settle your debt and possibly recover damages for you.
About Brian Hoag
Hopefully, you will need the legal services of a Tampa personal injury lawyer that specializes in debt collection harassment. If you do, please give Hoag Law Firm a call at (727) 231-5420 or complete your online Free Case Evaluation. A free consultation can help you understand your rights. With honest advice and an experienced attorney at your side, you can recover the largest possible settlement and get back to living your life.