What Is Harassment by Creditors?
Creditor harassment is the use of threats, abuse, repetitive phone calls, foul language, coercion, and any other aggressive behavior considered to insult or harass debtors to recover debts owed by them. Although federal law allows an original creditor to ask you for payments, a third-party debt collector’s use of such behavior is inadmissible and considered illegal by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Creditor harassment is a regular occurrence, and if you fall victim, know that you have legal rights to protect yourself. Consider hiring a creditor harassment attorney to assist in ending the illegal collection approach by debt collectors.
Which Acts Are Considered Creditor Harassment?
Despite the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protecting consumers against creditor harassment, most debt collectors still use excessive phone calls, text messages, social media, and emails to ask for repayments.
As per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the following acts are considered harassment:
- Use of violence, threats, or other unlawful methods to harm a person physically and to destroy their reputation or property.
- Use of disrespectful or obscene language with the intent of insulting the receiver.
- Making public a list of consumers who refuse to settle their debts other than to a reporting agency.
- Coercing debt repayment by advertising it for sale.
- Making repeat calls or constantly engaging a person in a continuous phone conversation intending to abuse, annoy and harass the debtor.
- Placing multiple calls without disclosing the caller’s identity.
- Provision of deceptive information on the alleged debt status.
- Representing misleading information of a debtor to a law enforcement officer or an attorney, resulting in an arrest or imprisonment.
- Threatening to take illegal actions against the debt collector.
- Debt collection agencies or creditors threatening to seize, sell or confiscate your property without following the legal process
Creditor Harassment Laws in Georgia
Business Debt Not Covered
The Consumer Protection Division, under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), covers personal, household, and family debts. Such debts include unpaid credit cards, medical care bills, charge accounts, and car loans. The FDCPA does not cover business debts.
Communication Through an Attorney
If you have an attorney, the FDCPA disallows debt collectors from reaching out to others except to your attorney. The debt collector may approach other people to consult where you work or live if you don’t have an attorney. However, they should keep your debt status private.
Protocol Regarding Names
The debt collector should use their name rather than the name of the debt collection agency.
Recovery of Debt From Minors
If the supposed debt holder is under 18, the debt collector may deliberate with the parents, spouse, guardian, state executor, or the consignor of the loan.
Restrictions on Contacting Debt Holders
The law allows a debt collector to contact you in person or indirectly using means of mail, email, telephone, telegram, or fax. Unless you grant permission or through a court order, a debt collector or creditor may not:
- Contact you during an improper time, i.e., before 8:00 AM or late after 9:00 PM.
- Contact you when they have the knowledge that your attorney is representing you.
- Harass you in person at your place of work.
How Can I Stop Creditor Harassment?
If you are a victim of credit harassment, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) assures you the right to obtain legal protection and holds creditors liable for violating the FDCPA law.
To ensure your protection from creditor harassment, try and do the following:
Identify Your Rights
To know your rights contact the CFPB and inquire about how to protect yourself from deceptive, unfair, or abusive practices by debt collectors and financial companies.
The CFPB will assist you by providing an online complaint form which you may use to file a claim against debt collection agencies or financial companies. After investigating your complaint, the CFPB will take action against the debt collectors if they determine they have violated the law.
Keep a Record of All Misconducts by Creditors
If you are going through creditor harassment, you should keep a record of all the communications, which include:
- A history of the time and date of received calls.
- A record of all written communication from the creditor or debt collection agency.
- Record all abusive conversations and threats.
- Record any communication from the debt collector after advising them to contact your attorney.
Write a Cease and Desist Letter
Before you file a complaint about creditor harassment, you may first try and send a cease and desist letter to them, ideally with the assistance of an attorney. The letter is a formal request to the creditor or debt collection agency warning them against harassment or contractual violations.
The letter may be practical to stop the debt collector since it notifies them of your intent to take legal action if the harassment continues.
Hire a Credit Harassment Attorney
If the harassment does not stop after your request, consider hiring a creditor harassment attorney. They can advise you on your rights and the steps you can take against the creditor.
The attorney will give you legal advice to help you to stay within the legal limits of the law in every action you take. They can also assist in filing a lawsuit against the creditor if the harassment is severe.
File a Complaint Against the Debt Collector
If you find the harassment harmful, you can file a complaint with the necessary authorities. You or your attorney can report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, your state’s agency, or the Federal Trade Commission.
In your complaint form, include details, copies of your debt collection, and information on the original creditor. Most debt collection agencies refrain from lawsuits; thus, they may consider canceling the debt or have a debt negotiation with your attorney if you accept to drop the case.
The FDCPA law allows you to sue for damages from credit harassment in a state or federal court. If you win, the creditor is liable for restitution and incurs your attorney’s fees.
Can Filing Bankruptcy Stop Debt Collector Harassment?
If you cannot pay your debts, consider filing for bankruptcy. When you file bankruptcy, you may get relieved from creditors and their harassment. Federal law requires your creditors to stop contacting and harassing you after you file for bankruptcy.
An automatic stay becomes effective immediately after you file bankruptcy. Its primary purpose is to protect debtors from pressure, harassment, and creditors’ demands. It also gives the debtor a less stressful life after bankruptcy as they address their financial difficulties and negotiate the debt repayments without any intervention by creditors.
If a creditor violates the automatic stay, your bankruptcy attorney may file for damages. The court may ask them to pay for damages and hold the creditor for contempt of the bankruptcy law.
When Should You Seek Help From a Credit Harassment Attorney?
If you are experiencing credit harassment, consider hiring a creditor harassment attorney immediately. A lawyer can provide you with legal advice on how to stop debt collection harassment and provide you with resources on debt collection: Chapter 13.
At Cherney Law Firm, LLC, we have debt negotiation attorneys ready to assist you in filing or pursuing a lawsuit against a harassing debt collection company.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the 11-Word Phrase to Stop Creditors?
On the cease and desist letter, you may use the 11-word phrase “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me, immediately” to stop them from contacting you.
How Many Times a Day Can a Creditor Call You Before it Becomes Harassment?
Federal law does not provide a specific limit on the total calls a creditor can make to a debtor. Although, the law limits continuous and repetitive calls intended to abuse, harass, coerce, or annoy you or other people related to you.