No one feels comfortable owing a debt that they can’t repay. Yet, millions of Americans find themselves in that situation every day. Although you would hope that your creditors would be understanding of your financial difficulties, the sad reality is that they’re probably going to be more aggressive about collecting your debt than you expected.
You don’t have to just sit back and let yourself be subjected to debt collector harassment. Instead, you can educate yourself about the law and what you can do to protect yourself.
Consumer protections under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
You have a lot of consumer protections under federal law. This includes protecting you from harassing practices. Here are just some of the restrictions that the federal law places on debt collectors:
- Disallowing debt collectors from making misrepresentations about the debt, including the amount that’s actually owed
- Lying about being an attorney when contacting a debtor so as to try to frighten the debtor into a response
- Making threats that the debtor may be arrested if the debt goes unpaid
- Making other threats if the debt isn’t paid, such as that they will garnish your wages without actually having the legal authority to do so
- Using written communications that lead the debtor to believe that the debt collection company is associated with a government agency or a court
There are a lot of other protections under state and federal law, so if you suspect that you’re being harassed or otherwise treated unfairly by a debt collector, then you might want to dig deeper to figure out the extent of your rights and whether the debt collector has violated them.
What else can you do to protect yourself?
There are other things that you might be able to do to protect yourself from creditor harassment. For example, by keeping track of your communications with a debt collector, you can determine if the frequency with which they are contacting you is against the law and whether what they are saying is false or misleading.
Be as detailed as you can here so that you don’t have to rely on your memory if you end up filing a claim with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or taking legal action.
Also, don’t be shy to file a formal complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and take legal action. This can help bring debt collector harassment to a stop and maybe even lead to the recovery of compensation for the harm that has been caused to you. This might include actual damages incurred, such as when the debt collector charges you illegal fees, causes you to lose your job, or forces you to suffer from mental anguish.
You’ll just want to make sure that you have a firm grasp on how the debt collector’s harassment has harmed you. You might also be able to recover statutory damages based on the number of violations and the severity of each of them.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights
A lot of people who are struggling with debt are embarrassed to talk about their experiences with debt collectors. But we encourage you not to feel that way. After all, millions of people are in your situation. That doesn’t mean that debt collectors can engage in aggressive and harassing practices that cause harm to you and others. Yet, they’re going to continue their ways until someone stands up to them. That someone could be you.