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10.0Mohammad Reza Kazerouni

Harassment by creditors is illegal: know your rights

If you are behind in bills, you may receive phone calls from creditors who hope to collect payments. When you are doing everything you can to pay down debt, these calls can be distressing and stressful. Do you know your legal rights when dealing with debt collectors? Keep reading to learn about your rights.

Your rights when dealing with debt collectors

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explicitly prohibits creditors from using deceptive, unfair, or misleading practices when attempting to collect a debt from you. All personal, family and household debts are covered by their Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

You may notify debt collectors in writing or verbally not to contact you at work, ending upsetting phone calls to your place of employment. Additionally, credit collectors may not contact you early in the morning or late at night, unless you specifically opt in to calls outside of normal business hours.

  • Debt collectors are prohibited from posing as other parties in a debt collection effort. If anyone attempting to collect a debt tries to pretend they are a lawyer to get a debt repaid, they are breaking the law. Debt collectors can speak with your spouse or an attorney you hire about your debt, but may not speak with anyone else.

  • You have the right to tell a creditor to stop contacting you by sending a letter. It's recommended that you send the letter certified mail so you have a return receipt that lets you know the debt collector has received your letter. The creditor may then contact you to confirm the letter has been received or contact you to let you know of a pending action, such as a lawsuit. Any other contact is explicitly prohibited. 
  • Debt collectors cannot threaten you with consequences that could arise from failure to repay a debt, such as wage garnishment or imprisonment. A debt collector will have to sue you in court in order to obtain legal authority to garnish your wages.

If you believe a debt collector has unfairly attempted to collect money from you, you have up to one year from the unfair behavior to sue them in state or federal court. Be aware that, even if you win, you are still liable for any debts you owe. You may receive compensation to reflect damages suffered during the process.

You have options to stop harassment during debt collection. Knowing your rights can help you find peace during a stressful time. Do not wait to contact a consumers' rights attorney to help you protect your rights.

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