Harassing Debt Collectors: Know Your Rights

Madeleine Jones
November 24, 2016

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), consumers are protected against unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collectors. Consumers who are harassed by debt collectors have a right to seek damages through FDCPA violations attorneys.

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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted by Congress in 1977 to protect consumers from harassing debt collectors. The federal law protects consumers against harassment, threats, abusive language, false, deceptive or misleading representation, and the use of unfair or unconscionable actions to collect or attempt to collect a debt. Common abusive debt collection practices include:

  • Excessive phone calls, including calls from an autodialer or robodialer

  • Calling a consumer at work

  • Calling a consumer’s family and friends

  • Using profane or abusive language, yelling, and insulting a consumer

  • Threats to sue a consumer on a time-barred debt

  • Attempting to collect on a false debt or a debt that’s been discharged in bankruptcy

Under FDCPA protection laws, consumers who encounter any of these prohibited actions can sue for statutory and actual damages up to $1,000, as well as costs incurred to file a lawsuit and reasonable attorney fees through FDCPA violations attorneys. Actual damages may include charges to a consumer’s phone line caused by a debt collector’s calls, as well as damages for emotional distress caused by abusive language or calls made to a consumer’s workplace or friends and family.

Protection Against Harassing Debt Collectors

Consumers who are harassed by debt collectors should protect themselves and know their rights. Many debt collectors try to collect money on debts that aren’t even valid. Consumers should always do due diligence on unfamiliar debts before making any payment arrangements or actual payments with debt collectors. Common scams include attempts to collect on false debts and debts that have already been paid.

Consumers who receive harassing voice mails and collection letters should save and document the evidence. Debt collectors are prohibited from making collection calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Consumers who receive harassing or threatening phone calls should record the calls or take notes during the call to document evidence that can be presented to FDCPA violations attorneys in case legal action is taken. Missed phone calls rarely show up on consumer phone bills, so keeping accurate documentation can be very helpful when filing a claim. Debt collectors must notify consumers of their identity when calling, and they are required by law to provide verification of the debt if requested.