In these dire times, almost everyone has been encountering problems in keeping up with the bills. To be harassed by a collection agency is a difficult thing to deal with. It is like adding insult to the injury.
However big the amount you owe from a financial institution, their collection agency is still not allowed to harass you just to be able to collect payment. In fact, the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from these abusive collection agencies. This law has identified actions that these collection agencies cannot do to collect payment. These prohibited actions are as follows:
- Contacting by phone before 8:00 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Failing to state the name of the collection agency, its address and phone number and the creditor's name, amount owed, and interest incurred
- Attempt to collect more than what is owed
- Using abusive, obscene, and profane language
- Calling constantly to annoy or disturb the creditor
- Threaten to sue or collect the wages of the creditor
- Threaten to ruin creditor's debt
- Threaten to send sheriff and foreclose property
- Discuss debt with third parties
- Insult the creditor or a third party
- Use phony documents
- Call after creditor already has advised the agency in writing to stop
Should these happen to you, you have the legal right to complain about the collection agency to the Federal Trade Commission. While waiting for their action against the collection agency, you can opt to do these steps:
- Record the calls using your caller ID and answering machine. Let the machine get any unidentified number. If you do not have caller ID, just let the answering machine take each call and make a return call on important ones that you have missed.
- Write a letter to the collection agency to stop calling. Remember, you will need to have a written letter to the collection agency. If ever they call again after you have sent the letter, they have already committed a serious crime according to the law stated above. Keep a receipt or proof that you have sent the letter as evidence.
- Consult a lawyer. A lawyer will be a big help, especially when the collection agency does not stop harassing you. Your lawyer will guide you through the legal steps in suing the abusive collection agency.
- File a complaint through the Better Business Bureau. You will not only get the help of the BBB in making the abusive collection agency stop but you are also spreading the word of their harassing techniques. Most likely, by getting the word out, you will gain sympathizers who are also facing the same ordeal.
Being in debt is not a crime. In fact, the law just protects you from being harassed by a collection agency but it does not mean that you are out of debt. Laws are enacted to protect your rights.