When you have outstanding debt, you probably face numerous calls from your creditors and in some cases, debt collection agencies. Although these calls are made to remind you of your debt obligation, they can easily seem pointed and even judgmental. You know that you need to pay your debt back and you might be taking steps to address this, but when you repeatedly receive phone call after phone call demanding payment, it can be easy to become stressed and lose sight of your priorities.
What you might not know is that it is illegal for these individuals to harass you about your debt obligation. They have a job to do, but they are required to do it within the guidelines contained in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you feel your creditor has violated these guidelines, you may have grounds to file a harassment claim. Talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about the treatment you are receiving to determine the best way to handle it.
As a consumer, you have the following rights under the FDCPA:
- The right to file a lawsuit against any debt collector, either individually or as part of a class action claim, for a violation of the FDCPA;
- The right to seek proof for any debt collector’s claims;
- The right to refuse contact from a debt collector at inconvenient times;
- The right to harassment-free interactions with debt collectors; and
- The right to privacy regarding your debt.
Harassment Under the FDCPA
The FDCPA defines harassment as any of the following behaviors directed at the consumer from a debt collector:
- Foul or abusive language;
- Incessant, annoying phone calls;
- Threats of violence or any other type of harm; and
- Threats, whether acted upon or not, of publishing the consumer’s name if he or she does not make a payment.
Other actions that are illegal for debt collectors to take in interactions with consumers include:
- Empty threats of legal action;
- Attempts to collect fines, fees, or interest without state or company authorization;
- Giving fraudulent information about the consumer’s credit or debt to a credit reporting agency, to the consumer, or to any other party;
- Using a false company name;Sending a legal-looking document that is not actually from a government agency to the consumer;
- Falsely claiming that the consumer has committed a crime; and
- Any other type of misrepresentation, such as a misrepresentation of the consumer’s debt amount, falsely claiming to be an attorney, making false statements about government involvement with the debt, or making false statements about the debt collection company or another company involved.
Work with an Experienced La Crosse Bankruptcy Lawyer
When you are working through the bankruptcy process, you have certain rights. One of these rights is the right to be free from creditors’ harassment. If you think your rights have been violated, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine if any violation actually occurred and if so, your options for addressing it. Our team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. is here to answer your questions and guide you through the bankruptcy process, making it as smooth and pain-free as possible for you.