What to Do if You Are Being Abused by a Debt Collector
If debt collectors are calling you at any hour of the day and night they might be breaking the law. Debt collectors are hired by companies that you owe money to, or the collectors purchase the debt from a company that you owe money to, and they try to collect from you. Though you do owe the debt, you have rights not to be abused in any way by an unscrupulous debt collector. You, as a debtor are protected under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). All you have to do is tell a debt collector verbally or in writing not to call you and they can't call you; there is one exception to this rule though, and that is the debt collector can call you one time to tell you that he/she/they are planning to bring suit against you for the purpose of collecting a debt. Debt collectors can be lawyers, debt collecting companies and individual proprietors.
By law, debt collectors can only call you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If they call you before 8 in the morning and after 9 at night they have violated the law. It is a good idea to keep a log of when debt collectors call you, because you may be able to collect from them for abusing you. Most cell phones will log the time of an incoming call, and they have caller ID, so a cell phone log will back up when a debt collector calls you.
If you have told a debt collector to stop calling you at your home or work, it is a good idea to send them a certified letter stating that you only want to receive communication with them through the mail. You need to send it certified so that when the debt collector receives the letter from you, a receipt will be sent back to you that your letter was received. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter in your own records in case you decide to sue the debt collector for harassing you.
The debt collector has a right to collect a debt from you; no matter if you sue the debt collector or not, you will still owe the debt; however, you can get punitive damage if you can prove that the debt collector has abused you in any way. What would constitute abusive tactics from a debt collector? If a debt collector calls you before or after the times legally set by the FTC, this is abuse. If the collector calls you after you have told him/her/them not to call you, this also amounts to abuse. If a debt collector lies to you in order to scare you into paying a debt, this is also abuse, and you can sue them for that.
A debt collector can call your friends and family to find out your phone number and your address if they are not able to get in touch with you; however, they are not allowed to tell your family or friends the purpose of their call. They are not allowed to talk about you owing money and they are trying to collect it.
Debt collectors are not allowed to threaten you in any way; they are not allowed to misrepresent themselves. For instance, debt collectors cannot say they are attorneys if they are not. They cannot tell you they are going to have you arrested and put in jail if you don't cooperate with them. If debt collectors are not really intending to take the time and money to sue you for a debt that you owe, they cannot lie and say they are coming after you. They cannot threaten you with garnishment if they don't intend to do it. In order for your bank account or your wages to be garnished, a judgment would have to be made against you through a court of law.
Debt collectors are not allowed to send a post card that can be read by anyone stating that you owe money to them. They are not allowed to show on an envelope that they mail to you that they are a debt collecting company. The purpose of this law is that you have a right to privacy, and the debt collector is not allowed to tell the world you owe them money.
People that have been harassed by debt collectors have lost their jobs for getting annoying phone calls at their jobs. If you tell a debt collector not to call you on your job they have to honor that request, and if they don't honor it and you lose your job you can sue that debt collector for the damages you incurred.
In conclusion, if you feel that a debt collector is using unlawful tactics to collect money from you for a debt you owe, you do have legal recourse. You will need to have documentation to prove your case, so if you are being dealt with unlawfully it is your responsibility to keep records, and do all you can to verify that the debt collector has broken the terms of the Federal Trade Commission.
You Have Legal Recourse If You Are Being Abused by a Debt Collector
To file a complaint against a debt collector you can call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or you can go to http://www.ftc.gov. The actual complaint form will be found on this page: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en