How to Handle Harassment from Creditors and Make It Stop

You know the drill – the constant phone calls, letters. Bothering family members, even calling your job. Debt collectors act as if they are a law unto themselves, but I am here to tell you that it’s not true. There are laws that govern what collection agencies can and can’t do to collect a debt, and if they violate the laws, they can get some hefty fines, or even get arrestedThey can even be banned from the debt collection business. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is to protect debtors from a variety of sleazy practices and even outright fraud that some collectors were using to harass and intimidate people who – in some cases didn’t owe any money, had paid the debt, or were trying to collect on a time barred debt.

 

What is Harassment from Creditors?

Harassment from creditors is defined as abusive, oppressive behavior designed to coerce you into compliance. Here’s a list of the behavior that they are not allowed to use:

  • Barrages of phone calls or texts to you, your family, or your work.
  • Calling at unusual times such as after 9:00 at night, or before 8:00 in the morning.
  • Obscene language, or threats of harm and violence.
  • Not identifying themselves as a debt collector, or lying about who they are.

 

Collection agency representatives are violating the law if they do the following:

  • They can’t claim to be representatives of law enforcement, the judicial system, government representatives, a credit reporting company representative, or attorneys.
  • They can’t complain that you committed a crime, or threaten you with arrest.
  • They can’t garnish your pay check without taking you to court.
  • They can’t lie about the amount of money you owe, or who they claim you owe.
  • They can’t revoke a security clearance, get you fires, or have you dishonorably discharged.

 

You have to document your interactions with these collectors but you should not record the call. Florida law makes it a crime to record any conversation unless all parties agree to the recording. If you want to ask the collector for their permission to record, I don’t think you’ll get it. There are simple ways to stop harassment, but be advised that this will not stop the collection action.

  • Send a letter. Whether it’s to ask for more information about the alleged debt, to dispute the debt, to restrict or stop contact, or to inform them that you’ve hired a lawyer, a certified letter is your best bet. If they violate the cease and desist, they are looking at some hefty fines.
  • Get an attorney to write a letter. Debt collectors really do not like to hear from attorneys, it means that someone’s looking out for the debtor, knows the law, and will not hesitate to Banhammer them with it.
  • Complain to the FTC. This is the agency that can fine or even ban errant collection agencies.
  • Sue the agency. You are entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory compensation, actual damages, and even attorney’s fees.

 

We have a lot of experience defending people from the worst of the worst in debt collection, and we can help you, too! Our initial consultation is free at either of our offices, and we are open seven days a week. Come in and start getting debt collectors out of your life!

About Chad Van Horn

Chad T. Van Horn, Esq. is a South Florida business leader and founding partner attorney of Van Horn Law Group, P.A. Through a combination of dedicated philanthropy, spirited entrepreneurship and legal expertise, he applies his resources and network to helping people. Learn more about Chad Van Horn

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