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What is debt collection harassment?

On behalf of Kazerouni Law Group, APC on Thursday, August 30, 2018.

Consumer debt can become an increasingly difficult problem to handle, with few easy solutions in sight. Working with reliable professionals can help you identify and implement workable solutions.

In the meantime, the fact that you owe money does not mean that you must put up with abusive behavior from collectors. Federal and California laws protect consumers from various types of actions that cross the line into illegal harassment.

The FDCPA

Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors must refrain from certain types of practices. For the purposes of this law, consumer debts generally include those incurred due to personal or household expenses. They do not include court-mandated debt such as child support, fines or tort judgments.

The FDCPA governs debt collectors who collect on behalf of the creditor, such as a collection agency or a law firm. This law does not cover the conduct of creditors trying to collect on their own behalf.

Harassment

Under the FDCPA, collectors may not harass debtors. Prohibited conduct includes harassing and abusive language. Collectors may not threaten to harm someone or to publicize her or his debt, except to the extent of reporting it to credit bureaus. An excessive frequency of phone calls can also rise to the level of harassment.

False or misleading communication

Collectors may not lie to or mislead debtors; they must properly identify themselves and state the purpose of their call. Some common forbidden tactics include falsely stating or implying that the collector works for the government or is a law enforcement officer or an attorney.

Illegal threats

Collectors may not tell debtors that they will be arrested if they do not pay. They may not threaten consequences such as wage garnishment or court action unless they have the legal right, the ability and the actual intention to take this step. Collectors who misstate the amount of the debt or other material information may also violate the FDCPA.

What you can do about it

If you face harassment from debt collectors, there are several steps you may take to shut it down. In addition, if collectors’ conduct violates the FDCPA, you may be able to sue them and recover monetary damages.

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