Debt Collection Harassment

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State and federal law prohibit debt collection harassment and provide consumers other valuable legal protections when interacting with debt collectors. Some of the largest debt collection agencies covered by these laws include Cavalry Portfolio ServicesMidland Credit Management, and Resurgent Capital Services.

BCJ Law’s debt collection attorney helps Pennsylvania residents harassed by debt collection agencies. If you need help, contact us today. Please fill out our contact form or give us a call at 1-800-997-5561. 

What laws prohibit debt collection harassment?

A federal law is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits harassing, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. A Pennsylvania called the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA) prohibits harassing, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices as well.

The FDCPA prohibits debt collection agencies from engaging in harassment, while the FCEUA makes harassment unlawful for debt collectors and creditors. A debt collector is a person that primarily collects debts or regularly collects debts owed to others. A creditor is your original lender, like a bank or credit card company.

What qualifies as debt collection harassment?

The FDCPA and FCEUA make various debt collection practices unlawful. Here are some examples:

Unlawful Threats:

  • Threatening jail time or arrest.
  • Threatening to damage your reputation or the reputation of others.
  • Threatening to seize property or file suit without legal basis.
  • Threatening to take action that is not intended.
  • Threatening to disclose private information.

Unlawful Deception:

  • Attempting to collect unlawful or unauthorized fees or charges.
  • Attempting to collect a debt that is not owed.
  • Misrepresenting the amount of debt owed.
  • Misrepresenting the legal status of debt.
  • Making deceptive settlement offers, taking deceptive actions, or filing suit on time-barred debt.

Unlawful Communications:

  • Repeated phone calls, texts, or messages.
  • Contacting you outside 8am-9pm.
  • Contacting you at inconvenient times or places.
  • Using obscene, harassing or threatening language.
  • Contacting third parties (employers, family, etc.) about your debt.

What other rights do I have under the FDCPA?

In addition to prohibiting debt collection harassment, the FDCPA gives you several valuable affirmative rights. These include debt verification, the right to modify how you’re contacted, venue protections for legal actions, and payment protections for disputed debts.

Debt Verification.

The FDCPA gives you the right to verify your debts. Debt collection agencies must disclose this right within 5 days of initial contact.

Debt verification requests must be written. Such request usually must be sent 30 days after initial contact with a debt collector. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from continuing to collect debts until they verify your debt.

Read our post on dealing with debt collectors for a detailed explanation on the debt verification process.

Modifing How You're Contacted.

The FDCPA gives you the right to tell debt collectors to stop calling you and allows you to tell debt collectors what times are convenient to contact you. If you request calls to stop, then debt collection agencies must stop contacting you. If you tell debt collectors how they can contact you, they must honor your wishes.

Read our posts on dealing with debt collectors, dealing with debt collection letters, and dealing with debt collection robocalls, for a detailed explanation regarding your debt collection communication rights.

Venue Protections.

The FDCPA prohibits debt collection agencies from filing lawsuits in courts far from your home. If a debt collection agency sues you, it must file suit where you live or where you signed your credit contract.

Payment Protections.

If a debt collector is collecting multiple debts, and you make a payment on one of those debts, the debt collection agency can’t apply your payment to any disputed debt. Debt collectors also must apply payments in accordance with your instructions.

Can I get damages when debt collection agencies violate the law?

The FDCPA and the FCEUA provide damages to consumers harmed by unlawful debt collection practices. You can get statutory damages, actual damages, treble damages, and, in certain circumstances, punitive damages:

  • Statutory Damages: you may be able to recover up to $1000 in automatic damages, even if you suffered no monetary harm.
  • Actual Damages: you may be able to recover any monetary loss you suffered, like unlawful fees or costs you incurred, and damages to cover any emotional harm, like anxiety, stress, or medical conditions, caused by unlawful collection practices.
  • Treble Damages: in some instances, you may be able to recover triple damages for your monetary losses.
  • Punitive Damages: in rare cases, like where a lawsuit was initiated without probable cause and for an improper purpose, you may be entitled to punitive damages for debt collection misconduct.

How much does it cost to sue debt collectors?

Debt collection lawsuits often don’t cost a thing. The FDCPA and the FCEUA allow lawyers to get debt collectors to pay attorneys fees and costs. If we get a debt collection agency to pay our fees and costs, you don’t owe us anything.

Hire BCJ Law to help!

If you think a debt collector harassed you or violated your rights, please contact BCJ Law. Our debt collection attorney may be able to get compensation for you. Not only that, we may be able to get the debt collection agency to pay our fees and costs. To get a free case review today from a Pennsylvania debt attorney, please fill out our contact form or call us at 1-800-997-5561.

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