Debt collectors have strict limits on their conduct under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If a debt collector harasses you, uses obscene language, or threatens you, the debt collector might have to pay your attorney fees and money damages to you. A Georgia bankruptcy attorney can talk with you about when you should seek help from a debt harassment attorney in Georgia.
Examples of Debt Harassment
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that safeguards the rights of consumers, says that these are examples of harassment that violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):
- Calling you on the phone without identifying who they are. Some collection agencies use deceptive practices to get information or collect debts. One such tactic is to make you think they are someone else. For example, it is illegal for a debt collector to call a debtor, pretend to be selling something and get the debtor’s credit card information, then charge the amount of the debt to the credit card.
- Threatening harm or violence. Collectors sometimes use these tactics on vulnerable people who are socially isolated or afraid.
- Using obscene or profane language. People trying to collect on debts do not have the right to subject you to this type of language.
- Repetitious phone calls for the purpose of harassing, abusing, or annoying you or anyone else who answers the telephone.
- Publishing lists of delinquent debtors. A creditor is allowed to contact a credit reporting agency and report information about past-due debts, but the FDCPA forbids creditors from publishing other types of information about people who have not paid their debts.
It used to be common for debt collectors to use harsh methods to collect debts. The situation became so severe that public outcry led to reforms like the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. Many debt collectors routinely lied to and threatened people before the FDCPA, and some collectors continue to do so, even though they violate the Act when they do that.
Here are some examples the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says violate the FDCPA ban on misrepresentations by debt collectors:
- The amount that you owe. Some collectors will inflate the amount that you owe to increase the amount of money their collection agency makes. Many collectors get paid a percentage of what they successfully collect. If they trick the debtor into paying more than they owe, the agency makes more money.
- Pretend to be a lawyer. Some debt collectors claim to be lawyers who will immediately file a lawsuit if the debtor does not pay in full. Misrepresenting oneself as an attorney is illegal under the FDCPA.
- Threaten to have you arrested. Some collectors lie and say that you will get arrested if you do not pay at once. America does not have debtors’ prisons. We do not throw people in jail because they cannot pay their bills. Debt collection is a civil matter, not a criminal process.
- Any other threats, like the threat to do things the collector knows he will not actually do, or to take actions for which the collector has no legal authority, like getting the debtor evicted and thrown out into the streets, also violate the FDCPA.
If you have experienced any of these things or other troubling behavior from a collection agency, debt collector, or someone to whom you owe money, a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer could help you put a stop to the debt harassment. Contact us today.
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