When Debt Collection Becomes Harassment

Most debtors believe that because they owe debt, creditors have an unqualified right to contact them to collect their funds.  Debtors are correct in that creditors have a right to contact them to collect the money that is owed to them.  However, this right is not without its limits.

Lawmakers realized that calls about money owed could quickly turn contentious and harmful.  The debtor is already stressed trying to figure out how to pay mounting bills.  Similarly, the creditor is already frustrated trying to obtain the money that they should have already obtained.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to protect consumers’ rights.  Under the FDCPA, creditors must follow certain rules on contacting debtors to collect money.

Collectors may legally contact debtors in several ways.  They may speak with you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax.  Most debt collections occur by telephone.  When the collector first contacts you, you have the right to immediately be notified of the purpose for the call and the nature of the debt.

A collector may only contact a debtor during times, which are not wholly inconvenient.  In most situations, debt collectors are restricted to calling between the hours of 8 AM, when most people are expected to be awake, and 9 PM, when most people are winding down.  However, inconvenience is determined on a case-specific basis.  If you sleep all day and work at night, these hours may not be convenient for you and you have a right not to be called during the normal 8 AM through 9 PM time frame.

There is no magic number on how many times a debt collector may call you.  Debt collection becomes abusive when a debt collector calls repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass.

A debt collector may be permitted to contact you at work, but not if the debt collector has reason to know that you cannot accept these types of phone calls at work.  A debt collector cannot put your job in danger by ignoring your employer’s rules.  Thus, if you cannot be contacted at work by debt collectors, immediately inform any debt collectors that they are not to contact you at your place of employment.

If you have an attorney representing you in the debt, debt collectors may not contact you directly.  Debt collectors would have to contact your attorney.

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