As someone in debt, you likely deal with debt collectors. It is their job to ensure their client gets paid. But sometimes, a debt collector can go overboard with their tactics. Fortunately, you have protection under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
This act ensures debt collectors cannot harass you. But first, you must know what constitutes harassing behaviors.
Debt collector misrepresentation
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau examines illegal behaviors by debt collectors. Banned behaviors fall under one of two categories: misrepresentation and harassment. Misrepresentation involves a debt collector presenting reality in an incorrect way in an attempt to get you to pay debts back. Examples can include:
- The collector pretending to be an attorney
- Lying about the amount you owe
- Making false threats of arrest
- Threatening you with things they do not intend to do
- Threatening you with things they cannot do
These misleading statements or outright lies may put pressure on you where none should exist. This often creates undue stress.
Is this harassment?
There are numerous harassing behaviors, too. Some examples include using obscene language, cursing, or threatening you with violence. Phone harassment is also common. Debt collectors often harass over the phone by calling repeatedly at all hours of the day and night. They may not identify themselves. They could also leave cryptic or ominous messages on your voicemail.
As the FDCPA bans all of these behaviors, you can take action if you face them. If you win in court, the debt collector will likely pay your legal fees. A judge may even order them to pay damages. Consider discussing your options with a bankruptcy attorney to see how to proceed.