Do you constantly receive countless phone calls from an unknown number or a debt collector claiming that you owe them? Did these people claim to be attorneys or claim that if you failed to pay them, they would sue you or threaten some other type of action? If so, you’ve experienced debt harassment.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are certain things a creditor can and can’t do when it comes to them trying to collect a debt from consumers. If you receive multiple messages from a creditor aggressively trying to obtain payment from you, you may want to reach out to an attorney for some help. Continue reading below to learn more about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and who you can contact to help put the creditors to rest.
Debt Collector Harassment
Per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors do not have the right to abuse, oppress, or harass you for any debt you may owe. Common examples of harassment include repetitive phone calls intended to abuse or annoy you or anyone who answers your phone.
Additional examples of debt collection harassment:
- Threats of harm or violence
- Calling you without advising who they are
- Using profane or obscene language
- Publishing lists of individuals who refuse to pay their owed debts
If you believe that a debt collector is causing debt harassment, you have the right to sue them for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you win your case, the debt collector must pay your attorney’s fees and have you pay you in damages.
No Misrepresentation of Debt Harassment
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also states that debt collectors cannot use false, misleading, or deceptive practices when presenting you with the debt. For example, they can’t misrepresent the debt you owe, nor can they make threats that if you don’t pay them, they will arrest you.
Additional misrepresentations creditors cannot use:
- Threats to do illegal actions
- Unrealistic threats the creditor has no intention of doing
- Falsely claiming they are an attorney if they aren’t
If a debt collector sends you any emails or letters, keep a file of all those documents. If this collector calls you repeatedly, it would be good to write down the dates and times that the collector called you.
Try to take notes about what they discussed. This documentation can be handy when you go to court or speak with an attorney.
What Debt Collectors Cannot Do
In addition to the information listed above, there are also some other ground rules these debt collectors must follow, or they will violate the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. For example, a creditor cannot call you at an inconvenient time.
They are only allowed to call you between the hours of 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., your local time. Any calls made outside of the window are considered inconsiderate.
If you’ve advised the collector that an attorney represents you, they cannot reach out to you. Per your agreement with your attorney, your attorney bars anyone from making direct contact with you about the debt.
Call You at Your Job
Some debt collectors try to reach out to their clients through their employers. If these creditors know that your job does not allow these types of calls, yet they call anyway, they violate the FDCPA.
Call You After You Send in a Written Notice
If you’ve sent a written notice to the debt collector that you don’t want them to call you or refuse the debt, they can’t reach out to you. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, they can still reach out to you to let you know that their collections efforts are terminated, and they can reach out to you if they intend to invoke a specified remedy.
What Happens if Debt Collectors Violate the FDCPA?
As mentioned above, if the debt collector violates the FDCPA, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the creditor. You have the opportunity to sue to recover any damages caused as a result of the violation.
For example, if your job does not allow collectors to call you, but your collector keeps calling and costs you your job, you can sue for lost wages. You can also claim attorney fees, statutory damages of up to $1,000, and any associated court fees.
Statute of Limitations on Debt in New Jersey
Another violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is to try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations. The law of limitations is the deadline a creditor has to file a lawsuit against you to collect a debt.
For credit cards, the statute of limitations is six years in New Jersey. For auto loans, the statute of limitations is four years.
It is essential to note that the statute of limitations resets if you contact the debt collector. Even if the statute passes, the creditor can still reach out to you to pursue the debt; they just don’t have the right to sue you. If a creditor does reach out to you after the statutes pass, it is up to you to bring the case to court to be dismissed.
Should I Hire a Debt Collection Defense Lawyer?
If you have a creditor harassing you and they decide to file a lawsuit against you, you have the right to seek legal counsel. A debt collection defense lawyer is a lawyer who can defend you against third-party defense collectors.
When these debt collectors reach out to you, they may attempt to collect more debt than you owe. For example, if you have a credit card company claiming you owe then $2,000, but they’re suing you for $3,000, including any costs, interest, or fees, you can work with an attorney to reduce that amount.
Debt Collection Defense Lawyer for Debt Harassment
If you have a creditor harassing you over debt, you can also reach out to a debt collection defense lawyer to help you in this case. You can work with the attorney to look over the facts that you have so they can create the best defense for you.
If the debt the creditor claims you owe is past statutes of limitation, your attorney can sue them for filing a past lawsuit statute. If the debt harassment causes you to lose your job or drive some other type of consequence that affects you financially, your attorney will do their best to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Does a Debt Collection Defense Lawyer Do?
As mentioned earlier, a debt collection defense lawyer will help you create the best defense possible if a debt collector is harassing you. Your attorney will request that the debt collector undergo a debt validation process where they must prove that they complied with the law by verifying the debt. Therefore the creditor must show that the debt truly belongs to you, and they have thirty days to respond after your attorney sends the debt validation letter.
If your attorney finds that the creditor failed to comply with the proper validation and collection process, your attorney will hold them liable. The creditor, therefore, may end up paying you for improperly verifying the debt and harassing you.
How Much Does a Debt Collection Defense Attorney Cost?
Each attorney sets their rate for their services. Some flat charge rates, whereas others charge their clients by the hour. The best way to find out how much an attorney costs for their services is to reach out to them and ask.
Most reputable debt collection defense lawyers offer their clients free, no-obligation case evaluations. During this initial meeting, you can explain your situation to the attorney, and they should be able to provide you with their payment schedule.
Help With Debt Harassment
Nothing is more annoying than receiving countless phone calls from a debt collector trying to collect payment for something you may or may not owe. Most people don’t know about their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and they assume that these types of threatening behaviors and repetitive phone calls are standard when they are not; that is considered debt harassment.
Contact us if a creditor is harassing you and you need help remedying the situation or wish to learn more about your rights. Our team of reputable and knowledgeable debt attorneys is here to answer any questions you have.