More than likely, you are already aware that you owe a particular creditor money. You certainly don't need someone calling you about it multiple times a day or a week to remind you and demand payment. If you had the money, you would have already paid the bill if even just to stop the phone calls.
Many debt collection agents are just doing their job, but some go well beyond what the law, and perhaps human decency, allows. When you are unlucky enough to encounter one of these agents, you may be relieved to know that you don't have to put up with that kind of abuse.
They can't abuse you
There is a distinct difference between a collection agent doing his or her job and one that crosses the line into abusive behavior. If a debt collection agent subjects you to the following, it may constitute abuse:
- Profane or obscene language
- Not identifying who they are when calling
- Making continuous phone calls intended to abuse, harass or annoy
- Threatening you with harm or violence
- Publishing your name as someone who refuses to pay your debts
These are just some of the behaviors prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you feel oppressed, abused or otherwise harassed by behaviors such as those listed above, then you may have a claim against the agency for violating the act.
They can't lie to you either
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from misleading, deceiving or lying to you. The agent calling you cannot misrepresent the following information:
- Threaten to have you arrested
- Claim he or she is an attorney
- Threaten you with actions that aren't legal
- Exaggerate amount you owe
- Threaten you with actions he or she has no intention of following through on
It may be a good idea to keep a log of the phone calls you receive and a synopsis of the conversation, especially if you believe you were lied to, misled or deceived.
What to do next
You may file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and in some cases, you may even be able to file a lawsuit. However, that may not cure the underlying issue, which is the fact that your debts overwhelm you. If you are unable to pay one bill, the odds are that you are either already unable to pay others or will be soon.
You could take steps to eliminate the source of your issues with debt collectors by taking advantage of debt relief options such as bankruptcy. Before making any decisions, however, it may be worthwhile to obtain an understanding of your rights and options available to you.