It can be incredibly stressful to realize you’re unable to keep up with your debt payments, and the stress is compounded when your creditors begin calling. These calls come at inconvenient times, which can be embarrassing. These debt collectors are simply doing their jobs, but sometimes their tactics can be quite aggressive and even cross the line into harassment. The good news is that there are laws regulating how creditors can go about collecting debts.
Legal Protection from Debt Collectors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives employees guidelines pertaining to how debt collection must be handled. Debt collectors may not call you repeatedly, but each company has their own definition of this. Most companies will call once or twice per month, which is acceptable. They can make these calls as early as 8am or late as 9pm, and when they call, they must tell you who they are and why they are calling.
While they are allowed to call you at your place of employment, if your supervisor complains, the creditor must stop calling you at work. It is illegal for them to exaggerate the amount that you owe or to make up untrue consequences of not making a payment immediately. It is also never acceptable for them to use profanity, shout, make threats of violence, or act
While they are allowed to call you at your place of employment, if your supervisor complains, the creditor must stop calling you at work. It is illegal for them to exaggerate the amount that you owe or to make up untrue consequences of not making a payment immediately. It is also never acceptable for them to use profanity, shout, make threats of violence, or act abusively in any way.
You Have Recourse
Chances are, your interactions with bill collectors will go smoothly, and you’ll be treated with respect. If, however, you are contacted by someone who doesn’t operate within the guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you do have options for how to respond and move forward.
First, make sure you document all of the calls and contacts so that you have a record. You can also simply ask them to stop calling you. This won’t get rid of your debt, and the creditor could either send your account to a collection agency or file a lawsuit against you. You may also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you know you won’t be able to pay off your debts, it may be in your best interest to file bankruptcy. The moment you file, the automatic stay goes into effect, and this keeps creditors from contacting you. If you are called, tell them you’ve filed bankruptcy and give them your case number and my contact information; I’ll take things from there.
No matter how you’re treated when you’re behind on your bills, the worst thing you can do is ignore calls from your creditors. Many companies are willing to set up zero percent interest payment plans or to even write off a portion of what you owe. It never hurts to ask and to take the time to explain your circumstances. If you’re uncertain how to handle your debt, let me help. I can help you make the best decisions possible to move forward to a more secure financial future.