Sometimes, it may seem like your creditors are an ever-present part of your life…showing up where and when you least expect, or need, them. While options like bankruptcy can stop most creditors cold, in the interim, unsecured creditors, the ones at the bottom of the proverbial food chain, are more likely to be the ones contacting you via phone, sending you letters, and generally harassing you for cash, any cash, where and when they can.
In the first part of the four-part series, “Creating a Barrier to Bill Collectors,” we debunked many unsecured debt collecting strategies. Now, we’ll explore the many ways you can actually use Federal law to stop the harassment altogether.
Unlike home, car and other secured lenders, unsecured creditors and their hired goons, the collection services, only have veiled threats “to take further action” if you do not pay your bills.
While these collection services have little to show for their threats, they can be a real source of stress, inconvenience, and sometimes, an invasion of privacy.
So what can you legally do to stop their constant and continued abuse?
Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA) is here to help. Passed by Congress in 1977, this Act formerly protects you from abusive collection strategies, specifying when, where and how debt collectors can contact you about your debts. Knowing the law, and, more importantly, letting debt collectors know you know the law, is your first best step on the road to being harassment-free.
While the law does not apply to the actions of the original creditor, the FDCPA can put an end to the overt bullying by their bill collectors—normally the primary culprits in the harassment. For example, under the law, debt collectors cannot contact your before 8 AM or after 9 PM, without your permission; make you accept collect calls; send you postcards; publish your name or anything about your debt; threaten to take action, like wage garnishment, lawsuits, and arrests, unless, of course, they tend to follow through; deposit post-dated checks; or collect an amount greater than the debt than the amount authorized.
To report a bill collector under the FDCPA, contact the Federal trade Commission Correspondence Branch, 600 Pennsylvania Northwest, Washington, DC 20580. If you believe a debt collector has acted egregiously in pursuit of your debt, you may also have legal grounds to file a lawsuit within one year of he violation, recovering actual damages, punitive (or symbolic “punishment”) damages up to $1000, and attorney’s fees.
In the alternative, you can always square your debts directly with your creditor or consider your other options; coming up in this series we’ll discuss other ways to call collectors on their intrusive practices, and using bankruptcy to not only erase unsecured debts, but also the hassles of debt collection.
If you too have been effected by the economy and are wondering how to reduce debt and get back on track, knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can also help you to conquer your creditors and face your financial fears, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a viable and secure future beyond our own “Great Recession.” The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.