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We tell our kids that bullying is wrong; we tell them that being mean, making threats and trying to force people to do things they shouldn’t do is hurtful and abusive. Unfortunately, many adults across Florida are dealing with a bully of their own: a credit collector.

Credit collection is a thriving industry right now. Between student loans, skyrocketing medical expenses and an economy in recovery, millions of Americans are carrying some amount of debt. And collections agents are eager to get their hands on payments. To do so, they routinely employ aggressive, relentless tactics to try to get people to pay. In some cases, these methods are lawful; in other cases, they cross the line into harassing and illegal.

What debt collectors can’t do

The actions of debt collectors are dictated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This federal law outlines what creditors can and cannot do when it comes to collecting debt, and the first step to stopping creditor harassment is being able to identify it. Some common violations of the FDCPA include:

  • Lying about a person’s debt
  • Misrepresenting themselves
  • Falsifying the repercussions of non-payment
  • Using threatening, abusive or profane language
  • Harassing a person by calling incessantly or at times known to be inconvenient
  • Contacting a person’s employer or other third party without consent

However, many consumers are less familiar with the line separating legal and illegal collections efforts than creditors are. Because of this, those who cross this line often do so with the hopes that you will be too scared or embarrassed to speak up or do anything except to just hand over your money.

What you can do to stop creditor harassment

In order to stop creditor misconduct and bullying, you must understand that consumers have rights and protections against unlawful debt collection practices. Talking to an attorney about your options, like filing a complaint or filing for bankruptcy, can be one of the best ways to stand up for yourself and fight back against creditor harassment. You should not have to deal with creditor harassment on top of all the other financial concerns you are dealing with; with legal representation, you don’t have to.