Debt Collector Harassment in California
Debt collector harassment is the intimidation, bullying, abuse, or coercion of consumers into paying off the money they owe. In California there are two things to consider when thinking about debt collection: harassment and misrepresentation. The presence of either of these things constitutes debt collector harassment and may require you to take legal action against the collector.
Debt Collector Harassment in California
According to the California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation (DFPI), debt collectors must now apply for a DFPI license to operate in the state. Debt collectors are also barred from engaging in illegal harassment such as:
- Calling before 8am or after 9pm in your time zone
- Threatening to have you arrested
- Using words or symbols to claim they are a government agency
- Using profanity or obscenities in calls or correspondence
- Trying to collect a debt after the statute of limitations has expired
If you are a victim of any of these examples of harassment, you may have a right to sue the debt collector for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). An experienced California attorney can help you identify your options and build a strong case.
Misrepresentations by a debt collector refer to someone making false claims or accusations or using false, deceptive, or misleading practices. This also includes misrepresenting any debt you may have. See some examples of this and other Illegal Debt Collection Practices below:
- The amount of money you owe
- False threats saying they will have you arrested
- Saying they are an attorney if they aren’t one
- Threats to do something that the debt collector has no intention of doing
- Threats to take actions that are not within the confines of the law
If you think any California debt collectors may have misrepresented themselves to you, it’s important to remember that you have options. Get in contact with an attorney that understands debt collector law.
Who Are Debt Collectors?
Most people don’t know what a debt collector is until they have one incessantly calling them about paying off debt. So, who are debt collectors? Who do they work for?
Collectors come from a debt collection agency that works with creditors who are owed debts. If you have outstanding debt in California , such as credit debt, unpaid loans, and personal loans, your creditor may contact a debt collection agency. This agency then assigns a debt collector to your case.
The Better Business Bureau keeps a list of accredited and non-accredited collection agencies in California including:
- USCB America
- Los Angeles Collection Service, Inc.
- Collection Bureau of America
- Innovative Collection Services
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Harassed By a Debt Collector In California?
Step 1: Know Your Rights
If you think California debt collectors are harassing you, then it’s important to become familiar with the Basics of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FDCPA was passed in 1977 to protect consumers from collection agencies. If a debt collector violates any of the harassment or misrepresentation rules, the victim has a right to sue the collector for violation of the FDCPA.
Step 2: Collect Records
If you’ve been harassed in California by a debt collector, it’s important to gather evidence. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau you should document all contact and harassment. Specifically, you should save voicemail messages, answering machine messages and text messages and print copies of emails. Additionally, you should always get the name and employee ID of the person calling, time of call, and take notes during the call. Keep in mind, you cannot actually record a call with a debt collector unless they agree, since California is a two-party consent state.
Step 3: Remain Calm and Act Deliberately
When you’re being abused or harassed by a bullish California debt collector, it’s easy to get angry and act impulsively. Unfortunately, this can cause you to say or do something detrimental to your case. Instead, try to remain calm and make all your actions deliberate and well-thought-out. Not only will this be better for keeping your stress levels low, but it will prove helpful if you go to court. You can show that you were respectful and calm while the debt collector was the one using abusive language.
Step 4: Ask for Debt Verification
If you’re constantly getting phone calls from California debt collectors harassing you about what you owe, you need to ask for debt verification. Not only will this show whether or not they are misrepresenting your debt, but the debt collector must also stop contacting you until they provide the information you requested. Debt verification should show the amount of debt you owe and the name of the creditor. You have 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt. If you don’t dispute the debt, the creditor will assume the debt is valid.
Step 5: Contact an Attorney
If you’re the victim of debt collector harassment, it’s time to stand up and fight back. You deserve to live a life free from abusive and repetitive phone calls. California attorneys that understand What to Expect When Suing for Debt Collection Harassment, and local debt collection laws, can help you make this possible. If the debt collector threatens to or does take legal action regarding your outstanding debts, working with an attorney becomes even more important.
Step 6: Present Your Case
By hiring an experienced California debt collector attorney, you have a better chance of winning the lawsuit and getting financial compensation for abuses such as phone harassment.
If you are suing for both federal and state violations in California, you have a choice to file in either federal or state court. If you go the state route, your lawsuit may begin in a California Superior Court. Keep in mind, due to a statute of limitations, you only have one year from the time the debt collector violated the law to sue for damages. According to the Federal Trade Commission you could be awarded up to $1,000 and be reimbursed for attorney fees and court costs, even if you can’t prove damages. If you can prove damages, such as lost wages or medical bills, you might even be awarded more.
Work With an Experienced California Debt Collector Harassment Lawyer
If you’ve experienced debt collector harassment in California, it’s time to put an end to it so you can move forward with life. There are laws in place to protect consumers from debt collectors. Legal assistance can help you to navigate these complex laws and defend yourself in court, if necessary.
Are you ready to find a debt collector attorney near you so you can finally fight back against the harassment? We can even help you connect with an attorney across California state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!