Debt collectors account for the majority of complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission every year. In 2017, consumers filed over 9,000 inquiries and complaints with the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General, most of them about unethical collection agencies.
Consumers report incidents of being belittled, called at work, threatened with lawsuits, and other unethical practices that leave many of them unable to answer their phone when they don’t recognize the number on their caller ID.
Although they would never admit the fact, you are not without power when a debt collector pushes ethical and even legal boundaries with you. Here are four ways that you can fight back and bring the unwanted communications to an end.
- Demand that they validate the debt
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows you to ask the debt collector to validate the debt. This step is especially recommended if you don’t recognize the account, believe the amount to be incorrect, or know that the debt is now legally uncollectible due to age or inclusion in a previous bankruptcy. If the collector does not provide you with the requested information, they may be violating the FDCPA.
- Send a written cease communications notice
Debt buyers in particular can be very elusive about providing you with their mailing address because the FDCPA allows you to send them a letter demanding that they stop calling you. Upon receipt of the letter, they may not contact you again unless it is to inform you that a lawsuit is commencing or they are abandoning collection efforts. Be sure to certify the letters before sending or the collector may deny receiving them.
- Collect evidence of wrongdoing
So many consumers are unfamiliar with their rights that debt collectors will brazenly violate both state and federal collection laws. If they call you before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. in your time zone, leave voicemails that do not identify them as debt collectors or send demand letters threatening nonexistent legal action, save all evidence. If you file a lawsuit against the company, it may be ordered to compensate you by paying $1,000 per FDCPA violation and covering your court costs and attorney fees.
- Contact a consumer rights attorney
Once you hire an attorney to represent you regarding the debt, a collection agency can only contact your attorney about collecting it. If they call or send further demand letters to you directly, they have broken the law, and you are in a position to file an FDCPA lawsuit against them.
If an abusive collection agency is harassing you, contact Bell Law for a case review. Attorney Bryce Bell will assess your situation, explain how to the FDCPA applies to the collector’s actions, and help you stop the unwanted communications. He has the knowledge, experience, and dedication to consumer rights to hold aggressive debt collectors accountable for the harm that they cause.