Debt collection harassment and abuse can take a heavy toll on borrowers who are behind on their payments. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws designed to protect you from debt collection harassment. These laws apply regardless of whether you owe money on the debt being collected.
A debt collection service can demand payment, but can do little else. Unfortunately, many debt collectors do not comply with the law, and can become abusive and harassing. Assuming the creditor has not taken the client’s house, car, or other property as collateral on a loan, then legally the creditor can do three things. The creditor can:
1. Stop doing business with you.
2. Report your default to the credit bureau.
3. Sue you in court. Fortunately, many creditors do not follow-through on their threats to sue you. And even if they do, you can defend yourself by paying the debt. Even if your creditor gets a judgment against you, this judgment does not force you to pay the debt. It only gives the creditor the right to seize a part of your income or property.
Here are some tips for how to avoid debt collection harassment. One of the best ways to manage debt collection harassment is to prevent harassment before it starts. If you are behind on payments, call the creditor and explain your situation. Don’t avoid the creditor simply because you are behind on making payments. Consider whether you actually owe the money, or whether you have a defense that could eliminate all (or part) of the debt. Consider negotiating with your creditor, or with the collection agency, to resolve outstanding balances.
One of the simplest solutions to stop debt collection harassment is to write a cease letter. Federal law requires collection agencies to stop their collection efforts after they receive a written request to stop. This law does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts – however, often creditors will stop contacting you after a cease letter is received. Be sure to keep a copy of the written cease letter and mail it using certified mail (return receipt requested). This provides you with proof that the collector or creditor received your letter.
If writing a cease letter is not effective to stop debt collection harassment, consider having your attorney draft a letter to the collection agency or creditor. As long as your attorney responds to the collection agencies inquiries, federal law requires collection agencies to stop contacting you (if it is known you are being represented by an attorney). Also, your lawyer may be able to raise legal claims for violating debt collection harassment laws.