The current state of the economy has left many Americans with numerous unpaid bills and mounting debt. Increasingly, those in charge of collecting that debt have gone to extreme lengths to make sure they are paid.
After the 2008 crash and resulting economic downturn, much of the debt is now spread across the country, which means there is plenty of business for debt collectors. In some cases, practices employed by collectors have gone beyond threatening letters or annoying phone calls and have become abusive.
In 2010, over 50,000 people complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that debt collectors were using severe harassment. An additional 18,000 claimed that a collector used obscene and abusive language and around 4,000 complained that they were threatened with violence.
Consumers are not without rights when it comes to abusive debt collection. The Fair Debt Collective Practices Act (FDCPA) sets rules for how and when debt collectors can make contact with a debtor.
The FDCPA covers several types of debts, including household, family and personal debts. This could be money owed on a credit card, car loan, mortgage or medical bills.
Consumers should be aware that debt collectors are restricted as to when they can make contact. They are not allowed to call at an inconvenient time or place. Thus, if you have unpaid debts you should never receive a call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without your consent.
Under the FDCPA, consumers also have the right bring private causes of action and recover damages when they feel wronged by a collector or agency.
Additionally, the law allows consumers to recover attorney's fees in the event a lawsuit is successful. Private suits are a valuable tool for consumers to enforce their rights against unlawful collection practices.
If you have been the victim of creditor harassment, it is important to know that you can fight back. Speak to an attorney experienced in abusive debt collection matters to discuss your situation and legal options.