Ever been harassed by a debt collector? If so, then you know just how unpleasant and unprofessional they can be. In some cases, actions taken by a debt collector can even be against the law.
But there is good news. If a debt collector breaks the law, you may be able to collect compensation and get them to stop. At the David Aylor Law Offices, our experienced criminal defense attorneys are committed to helping victims of predatory collection agencies fight back. Here are five very common, yet very illegal things that debt collectors do all the time:
#1 Calling Outside of Hours
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you have a right to be left alone in the evening. Being poor or falling on hard times does not give anyone the right to harass you late at night. The law says they can’t call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. in your local time zone.
#2 Profanity or Abusive Speech
They don’t get to curse at you, use vulgarity, or abusive and threatening language. Doing so is a direct violation of Section 806 of the FDCPA.
#3 Threats of Prosecution or Criminal Action
Being broke is not a crime, no matter what the debt collectors would have you believe. These bullies sometimes forget that and may use expressions like “You broke the law,” or “You know you’re breaking the law.” In short, no you are not. Failure to pay a debt, even intentionally, is at most a civil matter. It is a breach of contract.
Therefore, the most they can legally do is sue you, obtain a judgment, and then attempt to collect that judgment through the court system. At no point does any of that render you a criminal. But threatening you or claiming you will go to jail is a violation of FDCPA.
#4 Publishing or Advertising Debtor Information (or Threatening to Do So)
Many debt collectors have gotten into hot water by publishing the names of debtors. Years ago, creditors and collectors were putting legal notices in papers in order to “shame” debtors into paying. Today, some collectors may try to pretend to know you in order to become a “friend” on social media, only to then begin posting information about your debt. This is highly unlawful. For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission’s statement on this type of abuse.
#5 False or Misleading Representations
This is very broad and encompasses countless types of lies collectors tell. Under Section 807 of FDCPA, collectors are prohibited from:
- Claiming to be affiliated with the government
- Claiming to be law enforcement
- Lying about the amount or character of debt
- Lying about being an attorney
See the full list of prohibited conduct by FDCPA online.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you are dealing with bad debt collectors, you may have a right to statutory compensation of up to $1,000 per offense or violation, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. Section 813 of FDCPA provides this type of recourse as a means for deterring debt collectors. If you are dealing with this type of behavior, call David Aylor Law Offices to discuss your options.