The phone rings for the fifth time that morning and you cringe as you glance at the caller ID. It’s a debt collector again, and although you’ve already told this agency that you are taking steps to repay your debt, they keep calling to annoy and berate you. This is creditor harassment, and it’s against the law. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, debt collection representatives such as collection agencies are prohibited from using certain unfair or abusive behaviors in an attempt to collect a debt.
Forms of Harassment
Behaviors prohibited by the FDCPA include:
- Calling before 8AM or after 9PM without your permission
- Calling you at work, even though you have told them you are not allowed to take calls on the clock
- Not telling you who they are, falsely claiming to be an attorney, or being deceptive about why they’re calling
- Using profanity or obscene language
- Threatening you with violence or harm
- Making false threats or threatening to take actions that are not legally enforceable, such as claiming they will have you arrested
What Can I Do About It?
First, keep written or audio records of your interactions with the debt collector. Keep a log of when they call, to whom you are speaking, and any type of harassing behaviors you encounter. Also, maintain a file of any letters or emails you receive from them. You can send a cease and desist letter to the collector telling them to stop contacting you – be sure to keep a copy of the letter, and send it via certified mail with a return receipt request so you have proof that the agency received the letter. If the harassment continues, you have the right to sue the collector.