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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Debt harassment is illegal: Don’t let creditors victimize you!

By Jason Steinhook Debt Harassment is Illegal-Don’t Let Creditors Victimize You!
Debt harassment is a crime
Debtors have rights under the FDCPA

Debt can easily become your best friend or your worst enemy. If used correctly, it will allow you to make important purchases during a time when your money is not available. This is especially helpful during emergencies.

Unfortunately, many of us have found ourselves in trouble when it comes to debt. The bills keep coming and interest keeps accruing until it seems like there is no end in sight. Handling this situation is tricky, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Don’t ignore the situation 

You should never assume that a debt problem will go away if you don’t give it attention. When you find yourself with debt that you’re having trouble paying back, you must act before things escalate

Contact your creditor  

The best thing you can do is contact your creditor. Let them know that you’re having trouble making the payments, but that you are willing to work with them to come to a solution.  

Most of the time, your creditor will be very receptive to this. They know it is in their best interest to find a way that will allow you to pay your debt to them.

Dealing with a collection agency 

If contacting your creditor doesn’t work, they will eventually hand over your debt to a collection agency. It’s usually not a pleasant experience to deal with these companies. They are known to call continuously in order to get you to pay them.

Luckily, you have rights in this scenario. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, states that collectors must stop attempting to contact you once they receive a written request.

When you write this request, make three copies. One should be sent to the collection agency, one should be for your personal records, and the other should go to this address:

Federal Trade Commission
6th & Pennsylvania Ave.,
NW, Washington, FC 20850

If they have broken any laws in their previous attempts to collect the debt, make sure to note that in the letter. Once it is received, they may contact you once more to let you know that they have received the letter. At this point, they will inform you whether they intend to stop pursuing the matter or sue you. 

When further action is necessary

If the collection agency doesn’t stop after receiving the letter, it’s time to involve a debt harassment lawyer. Unfortunately, this won’t be cheap, but it’s worth the cost.

According to this debt harassment lawyer, usually all it takes is one more letter – this one from the attorney – requesting the collection agency to stop the harassment. If that doesn’t do the trick, the debt harassment lawyer can help you make claims under the FDCPA.

The lawyer will most likely send one more letter asking the collection agency to stop. Generally this will be enough to resolve the situation. If it’s not the lawyer will help you make any claims under the FDCPA.

Another option is filing bankruptcy. A collector must then attempt to receive permission from the bankruptcy court to contact you. You should only use this option as a last resort, however. This will affect your credit for up to 9 years, and you can most likely stop debt harassment with less dire actions. 

Stand up for yourself

Debt is a great tool that can easily turn into a burden. When it becomes an issue, many people are tempted to bury their heads in the sand, but it’s best when you stand up for yourself and face the problem head on. Remember to contact the creditor first. If you have to deal with a collection agency, know your rights, and use them.

About the author: Jason Steinhook works for a debt harassment lawyer. He is often frustrated when clients contact him for services – no one should be victimized by overzealous creditors! 

Image license: StacieBee, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0