Earlier this month, The Buffalo News published an interesting article that provided some tips on how consumers can finally put a stop to the continuous calls they receive from debt collectors. These days, it seems as if the moment someone becomes delinquent on a loan or credit card payment, the collector is picking up the phone to call the consumer. But collections agents are not just calling to give individuals a heads up on the status of their accounts; they are calling to hound people until the debt is paid off.
Let’s take a look at some respectful, yet helpful ways in which consumers can put a stop to creditor harassment.
Document every phone call. If you believe that you are being harassed by a creditor or debt collection agency, you should take notes during every discussion. Taking detailed notes on your discussions will provide you with better evidence for your case. Make sure to get the name of the agency or creditor, the name of the person you are speaking with and a telephone number. Record the dates and times the phone calls occurred.
Know your rights. Debt collectors assume that most of the people they contact do not know that they have certain rights in regards to debt collection practices. Consumers can take collectors to court if they believe that the agent displayed any form of an unethical collection practice. Collectors cannot: pretend to be an attorney or law enforcement agent, make harassing comments, lie or make threats. All of these actions are punishable by law, and the collector could be fined up to $1,000 for such actions.
Draft a cease-and-desist letter and mail it to the collector. A cease-and-desist letter will force the agency to stop contacting you. However, the letter does not stop any legal action over your debt.
If the agency contacts you about a debt you do not recognize or an amount that does not sound correct, send a dispute letter. People are often contacted about debts they don’t even owe. The dispute letter should be sent within 30 days from the initial contact. Law requires collection agencies to send verification of the debt they are trying to collect from you. The creditor is required to stop calling if they cannot provide verification of the debt.
Creditor harassment is a federal crime. Florida consumers receiving harassing calls should understand and there are certain guidelines collection agencies must follow, and the consumer does have rights. Individuals struggling with debt already know that they have some financial issues to work out. They shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with harassing phones at work or at home.
The Buffalo News: “Consumers can fight debt collectors,” Samantha Maziarz Christmann, 13 Dec. 2010