Not much is more stressful that feeling the heavy burden of unmanageable debt. When you add the prospect of non stop harassment by creditors on top of the burden of debt the situation becomes unbearable. People who have been victims of creditor harassment and bill collectors know how uncomfortable it is when the phone rings, especially when it keeps rings all day long. A number of people assume there isn’t a way around being constant creditor harassment, there are provision in the law to make it stop.
What you have to do first is to realize that doing nothing will not fix the problem. The sad reality of it is that collection agencies have hundreds of staff members whose sole job is to make phone calls and harass you into paying a debt that you may not even owe. The question is, how do I make it stop?
Creditor Harassment: know your rights
You DO NOT have to accept being bullied by collection agencies. One thing you have to understand is that while they may be rude to you and harass you, you are not under their control. Don’t ever scream at them, lose your temper or threaten them; always keep a level head.
You must remember that you have rights that they absolutely must respect. There are a number of things that collectors can’t do when attempting to collect debts. They are not allowed to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you have given them permission to reach out to you at those hours. You should always establish boundaries on the very first phone call. You also have the right to tell them they are not allowed to contact you at work or reach out to your family. Finally, and most importantly, if you wish for the calls to cease, you can tell them not to contact you. Once you have completed the phone call send a follow up letter via certified mail asking for proof that you explained to them how they should contact you in the future. Under Federal law all notices must be in writing to retain full legal effect.
You are protected by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, creditors are not legally allowed to do the following:
- Repeatedly call you
- Call you at unreasonable hours or late at night
- Call your employer if you’ve told them not to
- Call without identifying who they are
- Contact your friends, family or neighbors unless you give them permission
- Employ deceptive tactics
- Threaten you with child custody, arrest, or loss of welfare benefits
- Threaten with self-help repossession when not authorized by the law
- Use derogatory, obscene, or insulting remarks
- Directly contact you after you’ve told them to call your lawyer instead
Always make sure you receive proof of debt
Don’t just assume that you owe a debt to someone just because a debt collector has called you. The cold hard truth is that you should never pay the collector anything until they can prove that you actually owe the debt. Debt collectors often try this tactic to scare people into paying a debt by mistake. If the company calling you is unable to provide you with real proof of the debt you can simply tell them to stop calling you. .
I would even go so far as to say that even if you are pretty sure that you owe the debt, make them prove it to you anyways. As I have previously stated, sometimes debt collectors try to collect on fraudulent debt. Additionally, third party debt collectors often buy debt without ever receiving proof that someone owes it. This situation gives you a huge leg up and can often times result in you not having to pay the debt.
You should always be honest. If there isn’t any way you can pay the debt tell the person who called you the truth. If you think there may be a time when you’ll have some money then give them an estimated time when you might be able to pay. By doing this you could eliminate the incessant phone calls.
You can try to make a deal
There are some creditors that are not impossible to work with. They may be inclined to make a deal with you. Some companies may allow you to make small payments over time or they may forgive a portion of the debt they say you owe if you’re willing to pay right then. Generally speaking, third party companies are usually more willing to work with you since they often buy debt in bulk for much less than it was previously worth.
If all else fails, see a lawyer
If you feel you’re a victim of creditor harassment and you can’t find a way to get them to stop contact the Attorneys at Harmon & Gorove today. We can assist you in filing bankruptcy so that your creditors will stop harassing you, ruining your credit and garnishing your wages.