Illegal Debt Collection Practices
Reporting from CNBC in October 2020 suggests that debt collectors may gain the right to text you or send direct messages on social media. Unfortunately, the days of saving numbers and ignoring phone calls may soon come to an end as a result.
Despite existing penalties under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collectors can still test its boundaries. As a result, after dealing with constant harassing phone calls, it can feel hard to know whether or not a line was crossed. In fact, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the Basics of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Still, third-party debt collection agencies have a reputation for pushing the limit of ways they can contact debtors. If you wonder if you have a case worth bringing to an attorney, this article will help you make that determination.
What Type of Behavior Is Worth Reporting?
Any level of unwanted attention from creditors can raise stress levels and cloud your thinking. Thankfully, knowing some red flag behaviors and understanding FDCPA violations can help you see negligent behavior clearly.
If you can prove a debt collector participated in one of these illegal activities, you may have a strong claim. Some examples of harassing behavior under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act include:
- Trying to contact you at work
- Threatening physical violence
- Calling before 8 am or after 9 pm
- Using profanity or other obscenities
- Contacting you directly after they know you have legal counsel
A third-party who attempts to collect a debt cannot lie to you about:
- Taking legal action
- Threatening to have you arrested
- The amount of money that you owe
- Representing a legal firm or the government
Third-party debt collectors under pressure may overextend themselves by participating in:
- Threatening you with arrest
- Publicly revealing your debts
- Depositing post-dated checks early
What About Third Parties?
We often worry about what information third parties can share with others. It can open the door for illegal debt collection practices, especially as the threat of identity theft continues to expand. If you have debt issues, the volume and intensity of attempts by collectors can only grow in likelihood and frequency.
As of 2021, agents chasing delinquent accounts can contact your attorney, credit agencies, or creditors. While speaking with companies or legal counsel, a collector should follow these types of guidelines:
- Limit contact to one phone call
- State explicitly that they called to discuss debt collection
- Use envelopes, never postcards, for communication purposes
- Provide a name and correctly identify the debtor’s contact information
- Stop attempts to contact the third party after learning that you have hired legal counsel
- Refrain from printing wording on the outside of envelopes that indicates its contents are about debts
Can Debt Collectors Contact You About Old Debts?
Depending on where you live and what type of debt you have, the law can time-bar collectors from contacting you. This protection is thanks to a statute of limitations on debt collection. Unfortunately, some commonwealths allow agencies to continue to call after the statute of limitations expires. If you’re unsure about the status of your bills, you can contact the state attorney or legal counsel for clarification.
Additionally, you don’t have to pay a time-barred debt, but it can be in your best interest to do so. Negative information can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years, according to information provided by the Federal Trade Commission. Therefore, if you decide to make payments, the debt will not be erased from your history, but it will do far less damage in the long run than never paying at all.
What Can You Do About Illegal Debt Collection Practices?
If you have experienced one or more of the illegal collection practices above, you can take legal action to end the harassment. Scheduling a consultation can help you understand What to Expect When Suing for Debt Collection Harassment. As well, we can help you understand your rights and find leverage for potential negotiations.