When people in Philadelphia face financial hard times, the situation may be exacerbated by the stress of debt collection calls or other harassment. Individuals may find their phones ringing at all hours of the day with calls from collection agencies seeking payment for past-due credit card bills, auto loans, mortgages or other debts. These calls can come on a mobile phone, a landline or even at a work number. In addition, the pressure created by these calls can lead to serious problems, including marital issues and employment concerns.
It is legal for debt collectors to pursue payment for an outstanding bill. However, harassment by collection agencies is prohibited by law. While many collectors aim to stay within the boundaries of the law, others cross the line into unlawful harassment. Many of the laws that aim to stop harassment primarily target third-party agencies that purchase debt rather than the original lender. It is important to determine who exactly is making the calls in order to take proper action. Collectors must identify themselves properly, name the source of the debt and inform the customer that he or she has the right to dispute or verify the debt.
Debt collectors can only call during main daytime hours, generally between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the customer's time zone. In addition, if the consumer sends written notice of a refusal to pay, the collector must stop calling; although, they can still file a lawsuit for the outstanding debt.
Someone facing harassment from a debt collector may feel like they have no recourse, especially if they are facing significant debt. However, a consumer protection attorney can advise a debtor about their rights under the law and how they can take action against unscrupulous collection agencies.