Did you know that collecting a debt unlawfully is illegal? Debt collection abuse can take many forms, including harassment, deceitful tactics, and using false statements or threats. Law and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations prohibit unlawful debt collection practices.
Although the debt collector has the right to contact you in pursuit of an outstanding debt, they are not allowed to use any form of deception or harassment.
This includes making false statements or threatening legal action unless they can follow through on those threats. Debt collectors must also obey all state and federal laws regarding collection practices.
When To Identify A Potential Problem
When dealing with a debt collector, it’s essential to watch out for potential problems. Here are some signs that the debt collector may be engaging in an unlawful practice:
- Repeated calls or messages despite your request to stop contact
- Use of obscene language or threats of violence
- Harassment by calling before 8 am and after 9 pm or calling you at work even when told not to do so
- False statements about how much you owe, the legal action they can take against you, and their authority as a debt collector
- Pursuing debts not legally owed by you (such as expired debts over seven years old)
Defending Yourself From Unlawful Debt Collection
If you believe a debt collector has violated the law, your first step should be to file a complaint with the CFPB. You can provide evidence of any violations, such as recordings or emails from the debt collector. Once you’ve submitted your complaint, the CFPB will investigate and take action if necessary.
You also have the right to sue a debt collector in federal court for any damages suffered due to their unlawful practices. This can include monetary compensation for any emotional distress experienced. It’s essential to contact an experienced Texas Debt Defense if you choose to pursue this course of action.
While paying for your outstanding balance is an excellent way to avoid debt collection disputes, it’s essential to know your rights when dealing with debt collectors. If you suspect that a debt collector is engaging in unlawful practices, you must take action and protect yourself.
If you believe that a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), there are several steps you can take to protect your rights:
- Document everything
Make sure to keep all records of contacts with the debt collector in writing. This includes emails, snail mail letters, text messages, voicemails, and phone conversations (if possible).
Also, keep track of dates and times when these communications occurred.
- Know your rights
Knowing the FDCPA and all other regulations governing debt collection practices in your state is essential. This will help you identify potential violations and protect yourself from unlawful harassment.
- File a complaint
You can contact the CFPB to file a complaint against the debt collector if you believe they are engaging in unlawful practices.
- Speak to an attorney
If necessary, speak with an experienced debt defense attorney about filing a lawsuit against the debt collector for their unlawful activities.
Here are some instances where debt collectors may use deceitful tactics, harassment, and false statements:
Trying to collect a debt that is not legally owed or has already been discharged in bankruptcy.
One of the main tactics used by debt collectors is to try and collect a debt that is not legally owed or has already been discharged in bankruptcy.
This can include expired debts over 7 years old, debts that have been canceled due to an inaccurate credit report, or debts that were never yours to begin with. You may also be targeted for debts incurred by family members.
Contacting your family, friends, and/or employer without your permission.
This can be a ground for a lawsuit, as debt collectors are not allowed to contact anyone other than you about your debts. If any third party is reached, the debt collector must cease all communications unless it is expressly authorized by you.
Making false threats about legal action or arrest.
Debt collection agents cannot threaten legal action or arrest if it is incorrect or cannot be taken against you. They may also not falsely represent themselves as law enforcement officers or attorneys.
If these tactics are used, it’s important to document them and file a complaint with the CFPB immediately.
Making harassing phone calls outside of the hours allowed by law.
Any phone call a debt collector makes outside the hours allowed by law is illegal. This includes calls made before 8 am and after 9 pm and repeated calls during these times.
If you are experiencing such harassment, you can speak to a lawyer and may also be able to file a lawsuit against the debt collector.
Using profane or aggressive language when communicating with you.
Threats and intimidating language are considered harassment and are not allowed in debt collection. If you experience such behavior or have been in contact with a debt collector who used profane or aggressive language, you can document it and file a complaint.
Falsely representing their authority as debt collectors.
Although they are legally allowed to represent themselves as debt collectors, they must also clearly state that they are a debt collection agency.
If this is not done, it may be considered a false representation of authority, and you can take action against the debt collector.
While collecting the debt, debt collectors must follow the rules laid out by the FDCPA. If they fail to do so, then you have a right to take action against them and protect yourself from unlawful harassment.
Keeping records of all communication with the debt collector is essential if you decide to take legal action. Always err on the side of caution if you feel like the debt collector is engaging in unlawful activities. Consult a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.