Harassment vs. Debt Collection
Dealing with debt collections can often be a frustrating experience, not just for you, but for everyone involved. Often times, the collector on the other end is just doing a hard, thankless, and unforgiving job. They likely have nothing against you personally — no matter how it feels on your end. However, they can walk a fine line between just doing an unpleasant job and flat-out harassment. These tips will help you tell the difference between the two.
Debt Collectors Can:
Seek payment for a debt owed. Collectors can pursue any unsecured debt you may owe, no matter how new or old the bill is.
Use pressure to collect a debt. As long as it’s within certain limits, collectors are allowed to apply pressure during collection efforts. This can include frequent mailings and phone calls, as well as talk of possible lawsuits.
Negotiate the debt you owe. While the full amount of the debt would be ideal, collection agencies may be willing to negotiate with you. This is in order to collect at least a portion of the debt owed.
Buy and sell your debt. When one company is unsuccessful in collecting the debt owed, another can buy that debt and give it a go.
Sue you over owed debt. This is usually a last-ditch effort by agencies to collect what you owe. However, this tactic is usually effective, since most debtors end up losing by default when they don’t show to court.
Debt Collectors Can Not:
These are examples that count as harassment.
Use direct threats like
- Jail time
- Bodily harm
- Garnishing wages
- Taking property without court orders
- Pursuing court action without the actual intent
- publishing your information publicly
Use abusive methods. Using obscene or abusive language, or repetitive back-to-back phone calls at all hours of the day and night. In addition, physically showing up at your house or workplace is considered abusive behavior on the collector’s end.
Make false statements. Collectors aren’t allowed to:
- lie about amounts owed
- refuse to identify themselves
- make documents seem legal when they’re not
- represent themselves as something they aren’t, like an attorney, credit bureau, or government agency
Use unfair practices. They also aren’t allowed to
- charge any additional fees or penalties over what you owe
- contact your work or people you might know in an effort to collect
- use mailing methods that clearly make your debt information known
- call before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
Dealing with the burden of debt is never easy. One way to lighten the load is by making sure you get everything in writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s an agreement of negotiated debt or records of payments made. There is a huge difference between harassment and debt collection. Remembering that you don’t have to do it alone is another — contact us and we’ll help you get things headed in the right direction.