Archive for May, 2011

05
May
11

creditor harassment – how to end it

Under the law, threatening violence, using obscene language and calling persistently with the intent to irritate/annoy amounts to harassment. Also, calling home at odd hours or at work place if there has been a notification to not do so or even calling up relatives or friends without your permission can all amount to harassment.

What Can be Done to End to Harassment?

Attempt to engage the creditor before anything else, unless you have a strong feeling that the person may not be pleasant. Explain the reasons for your default, and try to reason with them and ask for payment extensions or payment options, or present any payment plans you believe will be feasible.

As much as one would hope reason and logic can win the battle, the fact is that more often that not, it will not work this way. Debt collectors will almost certainly live up to the stereotype of being unreasonable, difficult people. The next option you, as a debtor, have is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will ensure that all debt collection actions (including phone calls), ethical or otherwise, come to an immediate end. As soon as you file for bankruptcy all creditors and bill collectors must immediately end their collection efforts. Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, both the Bankruptcy Court and the attorney will notify all creditors of your bankruptcy through the mail. In the meanwhile, since this could take a week or so to reach them, you can also notify them in case you get a call, or a creditor comes ringing your doorbell.

Legal Remedies in lieu of Bankruptcy?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides the consumer with legal remedies against creditors who violate its provisions. The federal Fair Debt Collections Practices

Act (FDCPA ) prohibits a collection agency from engaging in many kinds of activities.

(15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 and following.) If a collection agency violates the law, you have the right to sue the agency. If the creditor that hired the agency was involved in the unlawful conduct, you may also be able to sue the creditor. If the behavior is truly outrageous, the creditor may waive the debt and remove the negative marks from your credit report in exchange for your agreement not to sue.

Under the FDCPA , a collection agency cannot legally engage in any of the following activities.

1. Communications with third parties.

2. A collection agent cannot contact you:

• at an unusual or inconvenient time or place—the debt collector must assume that calls before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. are inconvenient unless the collector knows otherwise, or

• at work, if the collector knows that your employer prohibits you from receiving collections calls at work.  If you are contacted at work, tell the collector that your boss prohibits such calls.

3. Harassment or abuse.  A collection agent cannot engage in conduct meant to harass, oppress, or abuse you. The agent cannot:

• use or threaten to use violence or harm you, another person, or your or another person’s reputation or property

• use obscene, profane, or abusive language

• publish your name as a person who doesn’t pay bills, such as in a “deadbeats” list

• list your debt for sale to the public

• call you repeatedly, or

• place telephone calls to you or any other person without identifying him or herself.

4. False or misleading representations.  A collection agent cannot:

• claim to be a law enforcement officer, suggest that he or she is connected with the government, or send you a document that looks like it’s from a court or government agency

• falsely represent the amount you owe, the character or legal status of the debt, or the amount of compensation the agent will receive

• falsely claim to be an attorney or send you a document that looks like it’s from a lawyer

• communicate false credit information, including failing to tell someone you dispute a debt

• use a false business name

• claim to be employed by a credit bureau, unless the collection agency and the credit bureau are the same company, or

• threaten to take action that he or she does not intend to take or cannot take.

5. Unfair practices. A collection agent cannot engage in any unfair or outrageous method to collect a debt. Specifically, the agent cannot:

• add interest, fees, or charges not authorized in the original agreement or by state law

• solicit a postdated check for the purpose of threatening you with criminal prosecution

• accept a check postdated by more than five days unless the agent notifies you between three and ten days in advance of when it will be deposited

• deposit a postdated check prior to the date on the check, or

• call you collect or otherwise cause you to incur communications charges.

If you are being harassed by bill collectors, call us for a FREE consultation:

619-800-3082

info@financialfreshstart.org

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The content found on the financialfreshstart Blog is not legal advice and is purely for informational purposes. The Zarcone Law Firm does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of submissions. The information provided by the bloggers on this site may not represent the opinions of the Zarcone Law Firm or its affiliates. The information contained herein is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

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