Last updated Oct. 30, 2017.
It’s no secret — when you’ve fallen behind on a debt, the gloves come off. Creditors will go to great lengths trying to collect on past-due accounts. Collection phone calls to relatives and friends are not uncommon and only add to an already stressful situation. Especially if your parents are elderly, receiving unwarranted collection phone calls can cause major problems.
The good news is that there are laws that limit the tactics creditors can use when trying to collect on a debt. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: How does it affect creditor phone calls?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a powerful piece of consumer protection legislation that outlaws many common creditor harassment techniques, such as contacting third parties. First, be aware that the FDCPA only applies to debt collectors pursuing consumer debts (auto loans, home loans, medical bills, and credit card accounts are all considered consumer debts). Debt collectors are broadly defined under the statute and include most third-party debt collectors, but usually not your original creditor.
In order to fall under the jurisdiction of the FDCPA, the calls must come from a business that is primarily engaged in collecting on debts.
Collection law firms fit the definition of a debt collector under the FDCPA.
Rules for Creditors Contacting Third Parties
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from contacting your mom, or any other third party, except to find information to locate you, the debtor. If you can demonstrate that the collector knows, or should know, of your whereabouts, then contacting your mom or a friend violates the FDCPA.
Debt collectors can legally contact you and your lawyer, but can only continue to contact a third party if the creditor cannot locate you and has reason to believe the information previously provided is false. Further, once the debt collector knows you are represented by a lawyer, all contact with third parties to ascertain your location must cease. Be sure to communicate the fact that you’re represented by an attorney in writing and keep records.
If your parents or friends are being harassed because of your debt, instruct them to ask politely that the collector stop calling and to mention the FDCPA by name. Fax a letter asking that the calls stop immediately. Without written communication, the debt dogs are just going to keep barking. If the calls don’t stop, start keeping detailed records of who is calling and when and then go visit a bankruptcy attorney. Because they encounter creditor harassment so often in their daily practices, bankruptcy attorneys can be excellent resources for FDCPA enforcement issues.
A debt collector who violates the FDCPA is civilly liable for damages, including attorney’s fees.
Get Help Filing Bankruptcy in Dayton, OH
When you file for bankruptcy in Dayton, Ohio, it stops debt collectors in their tracks. The automatic stay is an important protection offered to debtors who file bankruptcy — it’s what gets creditors to stop calling, stops collection lawsuits, stops foreclosure, and prevents wage garnishment.
Filing for bankruptcy can be complicated, but many people experience relief right away. First, emotionally, and then, financially. Do not go about filing bankruptcy alone. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can make all the difference and keep creditors from coming back.