How to Protect Yourself Against Creditor Harassment
When you are facing bankruptcy, you may be dealing with annoying calls from creditors on your personal phone, at your place of business, and even calling family members looking for you. Despite being behind on your bills, you do not need to endure poor treatment from creditors.
The Fair Debt Collect Practices Act established several laws for creditors and debt collections practices. Even if you owe a debt to a creditor, there are not allowed to frequently communicate with you to the point of harassment.
The following are some actions prohibited by creditors according to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act:
- Calling you before 8 AM
- Calling you anytime past 9 PM
- Calling you repeatedly
- Calling you at work
- Calling you without disclosing the collector’s identity
- Engaging you in deceptive conduct
- Threatening to have you arrested
- Threatening to have your child custody or welfare benefits revoked
- Using obscene and derogatory language
- Publishing your name
Rather than panicking and avoiding your collector’s calls, you need to understand your rights and take the steps to stop harassment and minimize contact.
Here are several ways to gain the upper hand in negotiations and prevent you from paying more than you owe:
Remain calm and authoritative – Since collectors are just doing their jobs and must deal with agitated clients on a daily basis, ask calmly for details to resolve the issue, such as manageable payment plans or settlements for a fraction of the total amount due.
Keep an eye out for a written notice in the mail – Collectors are required to send you a written notice within five days after initiating contact, informing you about the amount of money you owe. The notice needs to specify the creditor’s name and the necessary actions to take if you do or do not owe money.
Question the amount owed – If you believe that you do not owe the creditors money or the amount is incorrect, a lawyer can write a letter on your behalf discussing the bill in question. They are legally obligated to provide a timely response.
Tell them they are not allowed to speak with your employer – According to federal law, debt collectors cannot call your place of business if they have “reason to know” your employer prohibits this type of calls.
Do not allow them to threaten you – Debt collectors cannot use foul language or threats such as legal action or property seizure.
File a complaint – Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida attorney general requires the legal assistance of a lawyer.
If your debts appear to be insurmountable, perhaps filing for bankruptcy is the best option. At Albaugh Law Firm, we are experienced debt relief lawyers who understand the Florida and federal bankruptcy laws that could potentially impact your situation.