You can expect a couple of phone calls from debt collectors if you’re unable to pay your student loans, utility bills, or credit card debt. Persistent attempts to contact you is legal, but harassment is not. Debt collector harassment happens when creditors:
- Repeatedly call you to the point where it’s becoming a burden
- Continue to call even you’ve requested them not to
- Contact you at unreasonable hours
- Misrepresent themselves
- Threaten you with legal action
- Repeatedly contact you to abuse or annoy you
- Contact third parties that aren’t you, your spouse, or your attorney
- Use profane and abusive language
If any of these apply to your situation, then you should know that you have every right to stop this behavior from going any further. The following strategies are some proven methods to put an end to debt creditor harassment:
File for bankruptcy
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides instant relief from creditor harassment. When you bring your case to the judge, they’ll be able to carry out an automatic stay on creditors which will force them to cease repeatedly contacting you and forbid them from repossessing your property.
Write a Cease Communications Letter
Write your creditor a Cease Communications Letter which demands that they stop contacting you. You must send this letter through certified mail and request a return receipt. Make sure to photocopy both the letter and return receipt for your own documents. While your creditor can call you to verify the letter with you, they aren’t allowed to contact you after that. Keep in mind that this letter won’t eliminate your debt, and your creditor can still pursue legal action against you. This method is simply to stop any form of harassment.
Document illegal behavior and file a complaint
Know your rights and make sure to document any sort of illegal behavior that goes against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It’s necessary that you have a complete record of any and all forms of harassment by your creditor to present to the Federal Trade Commission. Note down the dates and times that these happened, as well.
Once you’ve gathered enough proof, file a complaint with the FTC. Don’t forget to detail in your complaint the name and address of the collection agency, the name of the creditor, any witnesses, and copies of the relevant documents and material. As an extra form of protection, you can send a copy of your complaint to the offending collection agency and debt creditor.
Sue the creditor
This option should be considered a last resort and you should only pursue it if you’re confident that you have a strong case against the offending debt collector. You’ll need to provide plenty of evidence that can prove that your creditor is truly harassing you, and you aren’t just suing them to get you off the hook. Be mindful of the fact that if you lose this case, the court may make you financially responsible for the debt creditor’s legal fees and court costs.
If your creditor’s behavior goes well beyond just a few bothersome calls, then you have a right to put a stop to any form of harassment against you.