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Stop illegal creditor harassment

A creditor has the right to collect its debts. They don't, however, have the right to use deceptive or unfair means to collect the debts. Debt collection practices are regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. The FDCPA identifies the ethical guidelines that creditors must follow in its debt collection efforts.

Illegal debt collection practices

Generally, the FDCPA prohibits lenders or collection agencies from using "any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt." The FDCPA specifically prohibits debt collectors from:

  • Asking a debtor to pay interest or fees. The debt collector cannot add fees that are not contemplated in the loan or credit agreement.
  • Calling repeatedly or continuously. Calling incessantly is creditor harassment.
  • Using obscene or abusive language. Swearing at a debtor or using profanities is creditor harassment.
  • Calling at obviously inconvenient times. These times are after 9:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m.
  • Threatening to use violence. Debt collectors cannot threaten violence as a means to collect the debt.
  • Threatening to sue or take an action against the debtor that the collector cannot legally take or does not intend to take.
  • Failing or refusing to identify themselves as a debt collector. Debt collectors must identify who they are when they call you.
  • Identifying themselves as an attorney. A debt collector cannot say they are an attorney, or affiliated with an attorney or law firm, if they are not.
  • Contacting you after you have hired an attorney. Once you have notified debt collectors that you have hired an attorney, they must cease contacting you directly.

Stopping creditor harassment

If your creditors have used any of the illegal practices identified above, or continue to contact you after they have been notified that you have an attorney, the illegal practices need to be reported, and a federal lawsuit can be commenced.

If your creditors have not used illegal practices, but you have reached your limit with the phone calls and letters, it may be time to consider bankruptcy. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will put an immediate stop to creditor harassment. Once you hire a bankruptcy attorney all communication with your creditors will be between your creditors and your attorney.

Victims of illegal debt collection practices, and those who want all debt collection efforts to cease, should contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy lawyer knows how to deal with creditors and can help you achieve the financial freedom you deserve. Your attorney will explain the different bankruptcy options and identify the best way for you to get out from under debt.