Falling behind on mortgage or loan payments is hard enough as it is, but having debt collectors harass you constantly is something you shouldn’t have to deal with. Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumer-protection from harassing phone calls and unfair practices. This federal act allows a debtor to report a creditor or debt collector for excessive collection calls and harassing collection efforts that violate federal law.
If you are being harassed for debt repayment, get in touch with a debt relief attorney immediately. Read on below to find out when you need to sue creditors for debt collection harassment and how to do it.
When to Sue
Debt collection companies aren’t allowed to:
call you directly if you have an attorney;
call at inconvenient times or places;
call at work, when you can’t receive personal calls.
Aside from you, collection companies can only contact your attorney, the original creditor, or a credit reporting agency about your debts. If collection agencies need to reach out to third parties for your whereabouts, they should state their name and their intention to confirm location about you. They aren’t allowed to:
identify their employer, unless asked;
mention or indicate on the outside of the letter that they are trying to collect a debt;
contact a third party repeatedly, except in certain situations;
contact third parties once they’re informed that you have an attorney.
Contacting you using the following debt collection practices are considered abuse, harassment, or false and misleading representations.
Lying about the amount of money owed or how much compensations the agency gets;
Claiming or suggesting that it’s connected with the federal, state, or local government;
Claiming to be an attorney;
Threatening imprisonment or repossession of your personal property, unless the creditor intends to take legal action;
Using a false business name;
Sending a final notice then continuing to demand payments from you.
If you believe a collection company is not using fair debt collection practices, speak with a debt collection attorney to discuss the actions you can take.
How to Sue
There are several options available to deal with harassing debt collection practices.
Sue your debt collector in state court.
If a debt collector is harassing you, you can take them to state court by filing a lawsuit against them. You need to prove that they violated FDCPA, but you’ll be able to sue them for damages and attorney fees. This process takes a long time but can have the highest payout.
Sue your creditor in small claims court.
If you don’t want lengthy proceedings, you can take your creditor to a small claims court and go through an expedited process. You only need to file a simple court document, and a hearing will be held within two months. You can receive the case ruling through mail or during the hearing itself. While the process is quick, small claims courts will limit how much you can get in damages.
Report the violation to a government agency.
You can file an online complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which ensures that the collection process is under the FDCPA. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) also takes complaints from consumers and works with both creditors and debtors to come up with a solution.
Report the violation to the state attorney general.
Debt collection agencies who are not following FDCPA may also violate state laws. Contact your state Attorney General’s office for a possible FDCPA lawsuit and any possible state law actions against the debt collector. If they get enough complaints against one debt collector, they may sue the debt collection agency on behalf of the state.
Use the violation in settlement negotiations.
Lastly, you may use the violations as leverage if you are negotiating a debt settlement. Lawsuits often cost creditors, so you’ll have more leverage in negotiations especially if you have strong evidence to prove the debt collection violations.
Talk to a Bankruptcy Attorney in West Virginia
If you’re dealing with debt and want to get debt collectors to stop harassing you, bankruptcy may give you the debt relief you’re looking for. The automatic stay stops creditors from collecting from you the moment you file your bankruptcy petition.
If you want a fresh financial start or find ways to deal with debt, call us today at Thomas E. McIntire & Associates, L.C. Our experienced bankruptcy attorneys will provide you answers to your bankruptcy and debt-relief questions.