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What Is the Best Way to Handle Creditor Harassment?
Sometimes, despite doing everything you can, falling behind on bills is unavoidable. Even the most responsible consumers may find themselves in a position where they can’t repay the money they owe to creditors.
Unexpected expenses and situations pop up all the time, and just because you find yourself in a tight spot financially does not mean that you deserve to be harassed by creditors. Unfortunately, creditor harassment is a fairly common occurrence. If you feel as though you are being harassed by creditors, know that you have legal rights to protect yourself from the most egregious behaviors. Contacting an experienced financial law attorney is a prudent step to take in order to put an end to the situation.
What Is Creditor Harassment?
If you are finding it difficult to pay your bills, you may begin receiving incessant calls and other forms of aggressive contact from debt collectors trying to recover your debts. When you are dealing with a serious financial situation, the last thing you need on top of it is harassment.
Creditor companies may try to call you at unreasonable times, contact you at work, contact you repeatedly, threaten arrest or jail time, or threaten harm against you or your family. These are extreme tactics — and they are illegal. As a borrower, you are entitled to dictate when, where, and how you are contacted by these companies. Because of the predatory, unethical practices often employed by debt collection agencies, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was created to protect individuals and consumers against these abuses.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
As stated above, harassment from debt collectors can take many different forms, such as repetitive phone calls, the use of obscene language, and threats of violence or harm, just to name a few. All of these practices are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of aggressive actions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guarantees that you can obtain protection from the creditor and potentially hold them liable for the damages caused by their violations of the FDCPA. If you win a claim against them, the debt collectors will likely be held liable for your attorney’s fees and may also have to pay criminal restitution. You can also submit an official complaint against the debt collection agency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
What Are My Rights When Dealing With Abusive Collectors?
When dealing with creditor harassment, keep in mind that you always have the right to decide:
- When you are contacted
- How you are contacted
- Not to be contacted at work (after submitting a request)
You are also guaranteed:
- Honesty about the company and person handling the debts
- Honesty about the amount of debt owed
- Transparent information about the original creditor
- A chance to dispute the debt, including a notification that you are able to dispute it
- All communication to be ceased or directed to an attorney upon notice
If you feel that your rights have been violated, contacting an experienced financial law attorney may be in your best interest. In choosing to have an attorney represent you, you can have all calls and communications forwarded to them. An attorney can also help you file a complaint or represent you in the event that you decide to pursue a lawsuit against the debt collection company.
How Should I Handle Creditor Harassment?
If you feel that you are being harassed by a creditor or debt collection agency, there are a few things that you can do to ensure protection for yourself:
- Keep a timed and dated record of all calls and other forms of contact received from or made to the collection company, along with a brief note about what was discussed.
- Keep all written communication received from the company
- Right down or record conversations (you will need permission from the caller) in order to recount the specific abusive language or threats used against you
- Alert the debt collection company that you cannot receive personal calls at work, and then keep a log of any calls received after that request.
- If you request that all communication be directed to your attorney, keep a record of any further communication received by the company.
If you have these records, they can be used in the event that you have a dispute with the debt collector. If you decide to hire an attorney, these notes may also be useful to them as they help to direct you to your best course of action.
Do I Need to File Bankruptcy to Stop Creditor Harassment?
Unfortunately, there are not many legal means that require creditors to stop contacting you completely, unless you have been granted a forbearance or other temporary relief. Declaring bankruptcy is the only way to completely cut off these communications, and it can give the borrower a chance to get their finances back on track.
Once you have filed for bankruptcy, all collection attempts must immediately cease, including calls, wage garnishments, and debt-collection lawsuits. This is referred to as an “automatic stay”, and it lasts until bankruptcy proceedings are complete. However, those creditors can still notify you of intended actions or discuss their concerns about you with the court.
Bankruptcy is not the best choice for everyone and not a decision you should make solely to escape the stress and pressure exerted by collection agencies. However, for many people, it can be a good solution — better than letting the anxiety and stress of the unpaid debt continue to grow and spiral.
If you are considering declaring bankruptcy, contact an experienced financial law attorney. Your attorney will discuss all possible options you have to resolve your debt. An attorney can help you file for bankruptcy, work out an installment agreement with the collection agency, renegotiate debt terms, or come to a lump sum agreement that will, in many cases, exchange debt reduction for immediate payment.
Reach out to Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd for Assistance With Creditor Harassment
Experienced Florida bankruptcy attorneys from the law offices of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd have been practicing law and protecting consumers from predatory debt collection agencies for over 35 years. Contact us today at one of our law offices in Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, or Okeechobee for a complimentary consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. We will sit down with you and discuss all your options so we can find a solution that best fits your particular situation.
To schedule your complimentary consultation with us, please call 866-460-1990 or visit our contact page.
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We are a debt relief agency and attorneys. We help people file for Bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free information about our qualifications and experience.