You may think that it is unavoidable to deal with debt collectors after you are deeply in debt. While it may be helpful to speak with collectors to see if you can work out a reasonable payment arrangement, some collection practices are considered abusive and are against the law. You and others might be interested in learning the differences between permissible and unlawful methods to collect a debt.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission prohibits debt collection practices that are deceptive, unfair or abusive. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from such collection methods as the following:
- Foul or abusive language on the phone by collectors
- Repeated, harassing phone calls or calls at inconvenient times of the day and night
- Phones calls at your workplace, if you specify the collector cannot contact you at work
- Threats of jail time or fines
- False statements of being an attorney, government representative or member of law enforcement
- Intimidation or threats of physical harm
There are less abusive, but no less unlawful, methods a debt collector might use, which often trick unsuspecting debtors. For example, a collection agency might send you documents that intentionally resemble legal or government papers. A collector may ask you to sign paperwork that he or she deceptively assures you is not a legal document, or the other way around. A debt collection agency may contact other members of your family only once to obtain your contact information, but you should know that the law forbids collectors from talking about your debt to anyone else but you or your attorney.
Debt collection practices may be confusing. If you are in doubt as to whether a collector is using unlawful tactics to collect from you, or are wondering what steps can be taken to stop creditor and debt collector harassment, it may be in your best interests to contact an attorney.