CAN YOU STOP BILL COLLECTOR HARASSMENT?
Bankruptcy Attorney Keith Moskowitz is dedicated to assisting clients who are being illegally harassed by third-party bill collectors at home and at work. You have rights that we can help you exercise. If improper collection practices are proven, you can even collect compensation.
Bill collector harassment is an excessive quantity of or overly aggressive pressure from a creditor or debt collector to pay a debt. It may involve threats of violence, threats to embarrass the debtor, false information, excessive number of telephone calls or home visits or general nastiness. It can even involve contacting employers, neighbors, or family. Third-party bill collectors cannot harass, oppress, or abuse any person. They also can’t use unfair practices or make false statements. Unlawful acts by debt collectors include:
Falsely implying that he or she is an attorney or government representative.
Falsely implying that you have committed a crime.
Indicating that correspondence they send you is from an attorney when it is not.
Implying that nonpayment of any debt will result in loss of personal property, wages, or that you will be arrested unless (a) it is lawful and (b) the creditor intends to follow through with such action.
Threatening to take action that is not legal or that the creditor does not intend to take.
Implying that the transfer of interest in the debt to someone else will result in loss of personal property or wages, or that you will be arrested.
Falsely representing that you committed a crime in an effort to disgrace you.
Misrepresenting your credit or failing to communicate that you are disputing a debt.
Using written communication that simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the U.S. or any state, or that creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval.
Contacting you by post card.
Using any false or deceptive means to attempt to collect a debt or obtain information about a consumer.
Failing to disclose clearly in all communication that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
Falsely implying that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers.
Falsely implying that documents are part of the legal process when they aren’t.
Falsely stating that papers being sent to you are not legal process forms when they are.
Know Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Whether or not you are currently in bankruptcy, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors observe restrictions and treat you fairly. This law prohibits certain methods of debt collection. Personal, family, and household debts are all covered under the FDCPA. This includes auto loans, medical care bills, and charge accounts. However, business loans are not covered by this law. Paying bills on time is generally the best way to avoid third-party bill collector harassment. However, sometimes you encounter unavoidable situations that impact your ability to pay in a timely fashion.
Most creditors and collection agencies follow the law when attempting to collect a debt. However, third-party bill collector harassment is definitely on the rise and has recently become the most-often reported business complaint in America. Often, an abusive creditor is the reason why debtors may feel forced to file for bankruptcy protection — to get the creditor to stop harassing them. You should never allow an abusive bill collector to force you into bankruptcy. However, if your circumstances prevent you from any other action, you still do have legal rights. Once you file for bankruptcy protection, bill collectors are formally notified you are in bankruptcy, and collection attempts must immediately cease until your case has been discharged or has otherwise been decided upon by the courts.
What to Do About Creditor Harassment After Filing Bankruptcy
If you have filed for bankruptcy and a third-party bill collector calls, politely tell him that you are in bankruptcy and give him your case number. This usually gets him or her to stop calling or otherwise attempting to contact you. Some bill collectors persist by asking if you want to re-affirm the debt, and they may also make a lot of promises to you if you agree to re-affirm the debt. Beware of any promises, they make. Bill collectors are paid to collect debts, and they will try any means to get you to pay, including making promises the collector has no intentions of keeping. The best thing to do is to politely but firmly tell them you do not want to re-affirm the debt. If the bill collector persists in trying to collect from you, even after you’ve told him or her that you are in bankruptcy and that you are not interested in re-affirming the debt, contact us immediately for legal advice on your next course of action. Or, once you have retained our law firm, simply refer the bill collector to us.