Consumer & Personal Injury Litigators

Understanding when to take legal action against a debt collector

There is no question that carrying a debt you are unable to pay is stressful. It often weighs heavily on those who find themselves in this situation and can make each day difficult to navigate. When, in an effort to collect what is owed, debt collectors engage in behavior that is illegal, it can make things even harder for the person who is behind in payments. While it is fair to say that no debtors likely welcome collection efforts from debt collectors, it is particularly true when the activities engaged in to try to get the money owed, are against the law.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes certain collection activities illegal. For example, when contacting a debtor by phone, the calls can only be made between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The conversations that do take place cannot involve obscene language or be construed as abusive or intimidating. The contact cannot be continuous and repeated, and the caller must make clear that they are a debt collector.

Regardless of the form, the communication from the debt collector cannot threaten violence, wage garnishments, arrest or lawsuits. In addition, the information communicated to the debtor cannot be false or misleading and the amount of debt referenced must be correct. Debt collectors cannot disturb debtors while at work or tell anyone else about it.

Despite the existence of these rules many debt collectors regularly break them. When they do, it is possible they could face legal consequences. Recently a Pennsylvania woman sued a debt collector. In her lawsuit she claims the national debt collection business violated the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act and disclosure of personal information.

The woman claims that the violation involved communication via mail. Specifically that the envelope in which a collection letter sent to her address was contained, made it possible to see an account number. This, which she alleged could have been seen by any person holding the envelope, is personal identifying information.

She is seeking damages as well as other relief and compensation for attorney fees and costs.

People who believe they have faced illegal debt collection practices should be aware that they too may be able to take action of this nature. Meeting with a debt collection lawyer is the first step in the process.

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