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How to Prevent Debt Collectors From Harassing You

Facing the persistent and sometimes aggressive tactics of debt collectors can be overwhelming and stressful. Understanding your rights and knowing how to effectively handle these situations is crucial to preventing harassment and alleviating the stress caused by debt collection efforts.

6 Ways to Keep Debt Collectors From Harassing You

Let’s start by being clear about one thing: Debt collectors are not legally permitted to “harrass” you. They can, however, be in communication with you, follow up with you repeatedly, and attempt to get you to pay off your debt using legal and ethical strategies. 

With that being said, if you’re being harassed, you need to step up and take action. Here are several things you can do:

  • Understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects consumers from abusive debt collection practices. Familiarize yourself with your rights under the FDCPA. Debt collectors must adhere to specific guidelines, such as not calling you excessively, not using threatening language, and not disclosing your debt to third parties.

Included in these protections are limits on when and where a collector may communicate with you about a debt.

“Generally, debt collectors may not contact you at an unusual time or place, or at a time or place they know or should know is inconvenient to you,” ConsumerFinance.gov explains. “They are generally prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Also, if a debt collector knows or has reason to know that you’re not allowed to receive personal communications at work, they’re not allowed to contact you there.”

Furthermore, if a debt collector calls you at a time that is inconvenient, you can let them know and they’re legally required to terminate the call.

There are also limitations on how a debt collector can reach out to you. For example, they can’t use social media to publicly post about the debt you owe them. (Though they can message you privately on social media, unless you tell them otherwise.)

  • Know Your Rights as a Consumer

Being informed about your rights is crucial when dealing with debt collectors. They are not allowed to use unfair or deceptive practices to collect debts. They cannot harass, threaten, or deceive you. Plus, you have the right to request verification of the debt and to dispute it if you believe there is an error.

As attorney Rowdy G. Williams notes, “A debt collector isn’t legally allowed to make threats that they cannot keep. For example, if a debt collector tells you they’ll have you arrested for not paying your debt, that’s against the law. You can – and should – fight back.”

At the end of the day, if something doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. A debt collector has very little power, so any serious threats are typically a sign that they’ve crossed the line.

  • Communicate with Debt Collectors in Writing

Maintain a paper trail by communicating with debt collectors in writing. Send letters via certified mail to ensure they receive your correspondence. You should also request that all communication be done in writing on their part, which can help protect you from verbal harassment and provide documentation of your interactions.

  • Request Validation of the Debt

You have the right to request validation of the debt. Within five days of their initial contact, debt collectors must provide you with information detailing the debt’s origin, amount, and the creditor’s identity. If they fail to validate the debt, they are prohibited from continuing collection efforts.

  • Send Cease and Desist Letters

If debt collectors are crossing the line with harassment, you can send a cease and desist letter demanding they stop contacting you. Once they receive this letter, they are only permitted to contact you to acknowledge receipt of the letter or to inform you of legal action they intend to take.

  • Seek Legal Advice or Assistance

If debt collectors persist in harassing you despite your efforts to follow the law and protect your rights, seek legal advice or assistance. There are attorneys and consumer rights advocates who specialize in handling debt collection harassment cases. They can provide guidance and support in dealing with persistent harassment. 

Adding it All Up

Staying informed about your rights and taking proactive steps can help you stop the harassment of debt collectors. Keep records of all communication, know when they violate the law, and take action to protect yourself. 

Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel overwhelmed or threatened by aggressive debt collection tactics. You’re not in this alone!

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