Blog originally published on August 1, 2016. Updated on July 18, 2022.
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. It seems like a fresh start is out of reach and there's no way to make them stop calling.
This is creditor harassment, and it’s against the law. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission United States government agency, debt collection representatives such as collection agencies are prohibited from using certain unfair or abusive behaviors in an attempt to collect a debt.
Whether you're in debt from loans, medical bills, or even utility bills, there are strategies and legal resources to protect consumers from the abusive tactics a debt collector may try.
Forms of Harassment from Debt Collectors & Creditors
Abusive debt collection practices are unfortunately common. Behaviors that are considered creditor harassment and are 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, false or misleading representations such as falsely claiming to be an attorney, or being deceptive about why they’re calling
Using obscene or profane 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
How Can I Stop Creditor Harassment?
If you want to stop debt collection harassment and constant phone calls, there are a few ways to go about it. First, keep written or audio records of your interactions with the debt collector or anyone else from the debt collection agency. 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 abusive debt collectors. You can send a cease and desist letter to the collector, which is a written request 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 debt collector harassment continues, you have the right to take legal action and sue them.
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