Are You Being Harassed by a Debt Collector?
The law doesn’t place a specific limit on how many times or how often a debt collector may call you, but if a debt collector calls you repeatedly in a way that harasses or abuses you or your family, you can stop the harassment with help from an Oklahoma City debt defense lawyer.
When debt collectors call, what are your legal rights? How are debt collection practices regulated? Does the law offer Oklahoma consumers any legal protection against abusive debt collection tactics? When should you contact an Oklahoma City debt defense attorney?
If you’ll continue reading this brief discussion of debt collection practices and your rights, you will learn the answers to these questions, and you will also learn how an Oklahoma debt lawyer can help you resolve your debts so that you can move positively and constructively into the future.
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the federal law designed to protect consumers from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. It defines debt collectors as third parties who collect debts for original creditors or use names other than their own when collecting their own debts.
The law does not apply to creditors who collect debts that are owed directly to them unless a creditor collects those debts using another business name. The FDCPA prohibits debt collection companies from engaging in any abusive, unfair, or deceptive debt collection practices.
The FDCPA allows a debt collector to use text messages, phone calls, emails, and the U.S. Postal Service. Debt collectors may not call you earlier than 8:00 a.m. or later than 9:00 p.m. without your consent, and they can’t phone you at work after you tell them you can’t take personal calls there.
Debt purchasing businesses – companies that buy consumer debts either to collect or resell the debts – are also regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when debt collection is the company’s main business activity.
How Does the FDCPA Regulate Debt Collection Practices?
Debt collectors may not harass or abuse you or your family members, use or threaten violence, or put your property or reputation at risk. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:
- make violent or harmful threats
- use obscene language or profanity
- repeatedly call you to irritate you
- misrepresent the amount you owe
- misrepresent themselves or the party they represent
- falsely threaten you with legal action that won’t happen
Debt collectors who seek information about someone from a third party must identify themselves and clarify why they are seeking this information.
The FDCPA allows debt collectors to contact your wife or husband, any co-debtors, and your debt defense lawyer. If you are under the age of 18, debt collectors may also contact your parents.
Can You Stop the Harassment?
In case the debt isn’t yours, or if you cannot pay it, speak at least once to the debt collector in order to confirm that your debt and not someone else’s (for example, someone with a similar name or someone who previously lived at your address) is being collected.
When debt collectors call you on the phone, know your consumer rights. Under the FDCPA, you do not have to deal with abuse or harassment. End the call at once if a debt collector abuses or threatens you on the phone.
If you’re a victim of unlawful debt collection tactics – or if you become the target of such practices – promptly contact the offices of an Oklahoma City debt defense lawyer.
If a debt collector has violated your legal rights, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit for harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Consumers who prevail in these cases may be awarded monetary compensation.
What Steps Will Your Lawyer Take?
Upon learning that you are represented by an Oklahoma City debt defense attorney, debt collectors may no longer contact you directly but may contact only your attorney. That attorney can send a letter directing a debt collector to stop calling you.
As mentioned above, debt collectors who violate your rights under the FDCPA may be held liable and ordered to compensate you. If your harassment claim prevails against a debt collector, the compensation you receive will depend on how and to what extent your rights were violated.
Can Your Lawyer Settle Your Debt?
If a debt collector is trying to collect a debt that you cannot pay, an Oklahoma debt relief lawyer can review your finances and recommend an appropriate debt relief option. Bankruptcy is one such option. Debt settlement is another.
A debt can be settled when a debtor (or a debtor’s attorney) negotiates with a debt collector to settle a debt for less than what is owed. Debt settlement doesn’t eliminate debt but instead makes it manageable.
However, a debt settlement may require you to prove a financial hardship to a debt collector. Your debt defense lawyer can help you gather the evidence and documents that prove you are facing hardship and that you need to arrange a debt settlement.
Should You Consider Bankruptcy?
If you’re thinking about bankruptcy, you’re not alone. Over 387,000 bankruptcies were filed in the U.S. in 2022.
Bankruptcy may offer some protections to consumers who need them, but a bankruptcy filing also entails serious, negative consequences. Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to ten years, and it may be that long before you qualify for a loan or a credit card.
Many consumers in Oklahoma take years to rebuild their credit after bankruptcy. However, others reestablish their credit quickly. If you understand bankruptcy’s long-term consequences and accept those consequences, then filing for bankruptcy may be the right decision for you.
What’s Important for Consumers to Remember?
No one who works hard to pay bills should be intimidated by a debt collector. If you’ve been targeted by unlawful debt collection practices – or if you’re targeted this way in the future – contact an Oklahoma debt defense lawyer at once, and put a stop to the harassment.
If you need to settle a debt, if you want to learn more about bankruptcy, or if you’re tired of harassment and ready to bring legal action against an abusive debt collector, promptly make the call to a debt relief attorney, schedule a free case evaluation, and put the law to work for you.