Tough economic times are hard enough, and you do not need other constant reminders of what you are going through. Harassment can be repeated phone calls in the wee hours of the night or early in the morning. Some debt collectors use abusive language or threaten to arrest you.
Harassing a consumer to collect on a debt is illegal. A well-drafted letter can stop creditors and debt collectors from making your life uncomfortable. If initial attempts to stop the harassment fails, Oklahoma City bankruptcy attorneys can help you explore other options like bankruptcy.
Does the Law Protect Me from Harassment from Debt Collectors?
The line between debt collection and harassment is relatively thin. The dos and don’ts by debt collectors while collecting debts from you are stipulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). You are protected from:
Debt collectors have no right to use obscene language or threats to frighten you when you fail to pay. Furthermore, calling you repeatedly to annoy you isn’t allowed.
Calls at All Hours
A debt collector is not allowed to call you beyond regular business hours. This means that they can only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Harassment at Work
Sometimes, an employer can restrict phone calls at the workplace. If the debt collector is aware of this restriction, they are prohibited from calling you while working.
It is unlawful for collectors to lie to the debtor for whatever reason. For instance, they cannot say that they work for a legal agency if they do not.
What Can Creditors Do Legally to Collect on a Debt?
Understanding what a creditor can do legally with regards to their debts prevents misinterpretations of harassment. Creditors of unsecured debts have a few options in attempting to collect.
Ceasing to Do Business with You – A dentist can end your patient-doctor relationship, or the credit card issuer can cancel its continued use. However, you can find other merchants to do business with on a cash or credit basis.
Report to the Credit Bureau – Most creditors give the credit bureau a monthly status of their accounts. So, if you have been late on your payments, paying now won’t change your credit status. But if the creditor doesn’t have that habit, it probably won’t start with you.
Contact You and Ask You to Pay – Creditors will either forward your contact to debt collectors or reach out to you to arrange for payments. Communication can be through text, email, or calls. However, the federal laws forbid them from telling your employer, relatives, or friends.
File a Lawsuit – Failing to respond to a suit is a bad idea because it allows the creditor to use powerful collection tools like bank account or wage garnishment. Therefore, it is wiser to ask an Oklahoma City bankruptcy lawyer to help you develop defenses against the charges.
Does the FDCPA Protect Me from All Creditors?
The FDCP Act only protects you from debt collectors who purchase the original debts to collect or companies that collect debts on behalf of the creditor. Creditors are not allowed to take specific actions against the debtors, but the rules are not as strict as those debt collectors have to follow.
A creditor can keep calling you daily to collect their debt, and they can also send letters. A debt collector harassment attorney in Oklahoma City can ask them to verify the debt and negotiate a payment or settlement plan for you. And if their communication crosses the line and amounts to harassment, your lawyer can stop them from contacting you.
How Can I Stop Debt Collector Harassment?
Knowing your rights as a consumer is essential, but knowing how to have them enforced is empowering. If the person tasked to collect is harassing you, you ought to write to them and ask them to stop contacting you. An Oklahoma City bankruptcy attorney can guide you on how to formulate the letter appropriately.
Consider filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission if the harassment does not stop. Alternatively, you can sue the debt collector for violating the FDCPA with the help of a debt collector harassment lawyer in OKC. But remember that the lawsuit can be expensive and time-consuming.
What Happens to the Debt Collectors if I File Bankruptcy?
The best way to stop creditor harassment in the shortest time possible is by filing for bankruptcy. Immediately you file for either Chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy, the automatic stay becomes effective instantly; no waiting periods, no delays.
An automatic stay is a strong tool for stopping all manner of harassment. It becomes illegal for the original creditor or any debt collector to take any action towards obtaining repayment. So, no more lawsuits, foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishment, collection letters, and phone calls. Thereafter, you can have those debts discharged and start afresh or agree on a more manageable repayment schedule.
What Happens to the Secured Debts When I File for Bankruptcy?
In secured loans, you have a contract with the lender where they are allowed to repossess the property if you default on payments. In bankruptcy, the secured debt cannot be wiped if you want to keep the property. In Chapter 7, you can:
- Return the property, and the debt will be discharged.
- If you have the money, give the lender cash equivalent to the property’s worth – and keep the car or home.
- Show that you can afford payments on more lenient terms and sign a new contract with the lender.
For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the period of repayment can be increased by up to 5 years. You just have to convince the court that your income is enough to manage the payments.
A Legal Professional Helping You Take Control of Your Finances
It is not impossible to reclaim control over your finances after hitting rock bottom. And just because things went south for you, doesn’t mean that you deserve to be harassed by debt collectors and creditors. You have rights that must be protected and options that can lead you to financial freedom.
OKC Bankruptcy attorneys at Mitchell & Hammond are ready to fight for your rights and put an end to harassment from debt collectors. Talk to us today at (405) 216-0007 for a FREE and confidential initial case evaluation.