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Harassment By Debt Collectors And What You Can Do About It

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Debt collector harassment is a problem for many consumers in Philadelphia. What a particular consumer considers harassment can be different from what another consumer considers harassment. Some consumers are more willing to put up with a great deal of harassment; this may be because they do not understand their rights under the law, or because they do not think the debt collector’s actions would be considered harassment.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from harassing, abusing, or oppressing the people they contact in the course of trying to collect a debt. Harassing acts can include calling a person multiple times a day in order to annoy or abuse the person; using profane or abusive language; calling someone and refusing to identify themselves; and, making threats of violence and harm. Some courts may not consider a couple of calls in a day harassment unless those calls show a clear intent to annoy or harass, for example by leaving obscene messages.

When a debt collector engages in a persistent harassment campaign against a person, the person can sue the debt collector. If the harassed person wins, the court can order the debt collector to pay the person’s attorney’s fees as well as some damages for the distress suffered as a result of the harassment. The FDCPA allows for compensation of up to $1,000 for a violation of the law; this can be awarded in addition to other compensation the court may award.

Sometimes debt collectors try to apply pressure on the person who is the target of their collection efforts by calling the person’s friends or family. Calling friends and family is supposed to be a way to embarrass the person into paying the alleged debt. While a debt collector may call others in an attempt to find a way to contact a person who owes a debt, they should not mention they are doing so in order to collect a debt. Additionally, if the debt collector harasses the family member or friend while trying to reach another person, the harassed friend or family member can also seek compensation under the FDCPA.

One way to stop the harassment can be to tell the debt collector to stop calling you, or asking them to restrict the calls to a certain time of day. The best way to make this request is to put it in writing. If you ask a debt collector to stop calling you and the harassing calls continue, keep a log of all the calls, what time the calls come in, the duration of the calls, and a general outline of the conversation. Keeping a log of the calls may be very helpful if you file a lawsuit against the debt collector.

Let Us Help Us

If you have debt collectors calling you at all hours of the day and night, even on numbers you have not permitted them to call, you can make the harassment stop. For more information on your rights as a consumer being contacted by a debt collector, contact Louis S. Schwartz and his team at ConsumerLaw Pa.com.

Resources:

ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text

consumer.ftc.gov/blog/how-stop-calls-debt-collectors

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