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Illegal Debt Collection Practices: Harassing You

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protection against debt collector harassment. The ways in which a debt collector can communicate with you are strictly regulated. Despite this federal law, debt collection agencies routinely hound consumers. Debt collectors think that, if they press hard enough, you’ll pay up. Moreover, debt collection agencies know that most people aren’t aware of their rights under the FDCPA and likely won’t complain.

Telephone Harassment

Most harassment is related to telephone calls. How do you stop harassing phone calls? Let’s explore what’s considered acceptable debt collector behavior and what constitutes debt collection harassment.

A debt collector is allowed to call you, but he may not call at a time or place that’s inconvenient. Setting aside for a moment the fact that debt collection calls are never “convenient,” the FDCPA is generally interpreted to mean that a debt collector can’t call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. In addition, he can call you at work – once. After you tell him that he can’t call you at work, doing so is a violation of the FDCPA. Furthermore, a debt collector can’t call you and hang up repeatedly, or call an excessive number of times. The FDCPA doesn’t define “excessive,” but if you’re getting more than two calls a week from the same debt collection agency for the same debt, that’s probably excessive.

A debt collection agency also can’t contact you once you have an attorney; at that point, all communication must go through your attorney. This is a primary reason why it’s important to opt for a free case evaluation; you need an attorney by your side.

Furthermore, if you notify the debt collection agency in writing that you no longer wish to be contacted (see a sample cease and desist letter) the debt collector cannot call again. This won’t make your debt go away, but it should stop the harassing phone calls. If you notify the debt collector in writing that you are disputing the debt (see a sample debt dispute letter), he cannot call until he’s proven that the debt is yours to pay.

The bottom line? You can stop debt collectors and stop harassing phone calls.

Abusive Language

Using abusive language is another form of harassment that debt collection agencies often use. Typically, a person will answer a debt collector’s call in an honest attempt to work out the debt, and will then be blindsided by the debt collector calling them obscene names and using abusive language. Debt collectors will engage in this kind of abuse to bully people into paying, knowing that inappropriate behavior that can rattle people and scare them into paying. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act expressly forbids this kind of harassment

How to Fight Back Against Harassment

If you’ve been on the receiving end of debt collector harassment calls, it’s important to fight back. First, start a logbook the first time the debt collector calls. Note the time and date of the call, the debt collector’s name (according to the FDCPA, he must tell you his real name), the name of the debt collection agency, and what was said in the call. When you receive additional calls, add them to your logbook.

Second, write a cease and desist letter. Remember, a debt collector can’t call you once you’ve told them to stop. If you’re disputing the debt, write a debt dispute letter. He can’t call until he’s proven that the debt is yours to pay.

Third, contact a fair debt attorney. If the debt collection agency has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are entitled to actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $1,000. The legal team at will provide you with a free case evaluation, and will represent you free of charge if you’ve been the victim of abusive debt collection practices. Complete the form to the right or call to get help.

Finally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is responsible for enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and uses consumer complaints to detect patterns of abuse. Complaints like yours are the driving factor in lawsuits filed by the FTC against unethical debt collectors. Learn more about filing an FTC complaint.

Lemberg & Associates’ team
of consumer attorneys is highly
skilled and ready to help you
with debt collector abuse.

If you have been the victim of harassment or illegal or unfair debt collection practices, Lemberg & Associates will discuss your options with you and protect your rights. For more information, contact Lemberg & Associates today at .

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"The FDCPA is a consumer protection statute and was intended to permit, even encourage, attorneys like Lemberg to act as private attorney generals to pursue FDCPA claims."

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Evon v. Law Offices of Sidney Mickell
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