Signs That You Are Being Harassed By a Creditor
If you have fallen behind on your credit card payments, you are probably being contacted by debt collectors day in and day out. These debt collectors are paid to make sure that you make your payment to the company but could their actions be too forceful? The best way to know if you should seek legal consultation due to creditor harassment is by knowing what the creditors can and cannot do in the eyes of the law. By knowing the rules of the game, you can better assure that your rights are not violated.
What Collectors Cannot Legally Do
The basic list of what debit collectors cannot do is as follows:
- Call you at your place of work
- Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. at your home
- Add unauthorized charges
- Make false or misleading statements or accusations
- Speak to you in an abusive or threatening manner
- Contact your family and friends in an attempt to contact you and collect
- Demand that you pay immediately by sending a check by mail or Fed-Ex
If you feel that a debt collector is doing any one or a combination of the previous actions, then you may be able to retain a lawyer to compensate you. If you feel that seeking legal advice is not necessary yet, then you need to put your complaints in writing. Write to Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general, or the Federal Trade Commission telling them the name and address of your harassing creditor. Also, write to the creditor telling him to leave you alone unless notifying you that the credit card company is preparing to sue you or that collection efforts have ended.
Steps to Seek Legal Help
Try to get the harassing behavior on tape or in writing to take to a lawyer. This is not necessary but highly beneficial to your case. The recording of a creditor’s call is not illegal except in the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. If you live in any one of these states, there is still something you can do. Keep a written log of what the creditor says that may be considered harassment. Include times of the calls in order to add legitimacy to your records. Once you have this information, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and try to include a witness. It is not necessary to have a witness for your complaints but it is again helpful. Send a copy of your complaint to the collection agency as well to notify them of your actions and the collection efforts may be stopped. If the harassment continues, then know that you should take steps to hire a lawyer that may be able to sue the creditor’s company. This will result in a case in a regular civil or small claims court. The highest amount that you can sue for is $1,000.00.
The best way to protect yourself from any type of harassment is to know your rights. If you know that your rights have been violated, then seek legal action.