How far can a bill collector go before it is considered harassment? If you are late paying a bill, which can happen for many reasons, then you may be asking that question. Up until recently, companies gave you some time to pay a bill as long as you called them and made arrangements for the payment due.
Harassment can come in many forms including: repetitious phone calls designed to annoy you, obscene language and threats of violence. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says collectors cannot do any of these things.
They also may not publish your name unless they are reporting your debt to a collections agency. Collectors are required to identify themselves to you when inquiring about what you owe to any company.
It is a good idea to keep a file of all letters or documents a debit collector sends you, and copies of anything you send to a debt collector. Write down dates and times of conversations along with notes about what you discussed. Records may be of help if you meet with a lawyer or end up in court.
The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has sample letters that you can use if you find yourself in a debt dispute. These letters may help you get information and exercise some of your rights.
If you feel that you’re being harassed, you can submit an online complaint and you can also contact your state’s attorney general. Misrepresentations by a collector are also against the law and include:
- The amount owed
- That the person is an attorney if they are not
- Threats to do things that are illegal
- False threats to have you arrested
- Threats to do things that the debt collector has no intention of doing
You can also sue the debt collector for violations of the FDCPA. If you sue under the act and win, the debt collector may be liable for your legal fees and any damages.
If you have questions about harassment by a debt collector, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.