On behalf of Liz Hickson at Hickson Law, PC
A Texas man recently sued a debt collection agency for harassment after it called him at his home and work more than 100 times. The agency is accused of verbally abusing and harassing him over the phone regarding a 4-year-old debt. The man requested documentation verifying the debt but the agency apparently refused to validate its claim.
Such lawsuits are not uncommon and according to WebRecon LLC - a firm that tracks lawsuit data from the nation's courts - there were nearly 500 new cases brought in the span of just two weeks in January.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was adopted in the U.S. in 1978 and prohibits abusive and deceptive collection tactics by collectors of consumer debt. The Act promoted fair collection practices and provides rights and protections to people who owe consumer debts.
Requirements for Debt Collectors
Debt collectors must follow strict guidelines and include specific language when communicating with someone about a debt they may owe. Among other requirements, the person making a call or writing a letter to the debtor must:
- Clearly identify him or herself as a debt collector
- Warn that any information collected will be used to help collect the debt
- Provide the name and address of the original creditor
- Explain that the person contacted has a right to dispute the debt
- Provide verification of the debt upon request
Debt collectors may not engage in abusive or deceptive actions while attempting to collect debt. Some of actions that are prohibited by the FDCPA include:
- Calling the debtor before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Making repeated or continuous phone calls with the intention of annoying or harassing the person called
- Using profane or abusive language
- Contacting the debtor where he or she works after being told not to do so by that person's employer
- Contacting a debtor who is known to have hired an attorney
- Threatening to sue the person called
- Contacting neighbors or co-workers about the debt
If you have outstanding debt and are worried about harassment by debt collectors, contact a lawyer who knows how to assert your rights and protect you from collection abuse. A lawyer experienced with creditor claims and debt negotiation can help you find a legal solution to your debt issues.