Have you been the victim of illegal debt collection practices?

A Jan. 18, 2015 article on The Motley Fool, revealed that the average U.S household is carrying roughly $97,360 in debt. Debts associated with student, car and home loans in addition to credit card and medical expenses are crippling many Americans who struggle each month to pay down these debts while still affording basic necessities other everyday expenses.

Given the large amounts of debt many Americans are already trying to pay off, unexpected costs associated with a home repair or medical emergency can quickly upset an already precarious financial situation and result in missed credit card and loan payments. In cases where an individual falls behind in making minimum monthly payments, the harassing letters and telephone calls from creditors are likely to follow.

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a creditor's attempts to recover payment knows how intrusive and disruptive creators' actions can be. While creditors who are owed payment have the right to communicate with a debtor in an attempt to recoup owned debts, laws exist that govern the nature, time and scope of their activities.

Under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors are banned from engaging in the following debt-collection activities:

  • Calling a debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Pretending to represent or be someone else
  • Use abusive or threatening language
  • Continue to contact a debtor after being informed, in writing, to cease all communication
  • Contact a debtor after being told that he or she is represented by an attorney who is to be the main point of contact
  • Use of obscene language
  • Continue to contact an individual at work after being told not to
  • Contact an individual after being informed that he or she is filing for bankruptcy.

Despite the clear directives that are laid out in the FDCPA about what creditors can and cannot do, many engage in harassing, abusive and illegal collection practices. Individuals who have been on the receiving end of what they believe to be illegal debt collection practices may choose to contact an attorney.

Source: Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information, "Debt Collection," Aug. 7, 2015

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