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When does debt collection become harassment?

If you are like many people in Tennessee, and elsewhere, who are struggling with credit card debt, then debt collectors have likely contacted you. While it is the job of these agencies to get you to pay the amounts owed on your accounts, there are limits to the methods they can use. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, prohibits certain collection practices, which are considered abusive, deceptive or unfair.

Debt collectors are permitted to call, text, write or email you to try and collect a debt. This does not mean, however, that they can call you at anytime or anywhere to seek payment on your credit card debts, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Unless you have given them permission, they cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or 9 nine p.m.  Additionally, if you have indicated verbally, or in writing, that you cannot get phone calls at your place of work, then they are not permitted to contact you there.

Under the FDCPA, debt collection agencies cannot use collection practices that are meant to abuse, harass or oppress you, or any third parties. This includes threats of harm of violence, the use of obscene language or making repeated calls for the purpose of annoying you. Making false statements when collecting debts may also be considered harassment under the FDCPA. For example, debt collectors cannot tell you that they are attorneys or government representatives if they are not. Furthermore, they cannot claim that you have committed a crime because you did not pay your debt, or will be arrested if you do not pay.

When collecting a debt, debt collectors are also prohibited from using unfair practices. According to the FTC, this includes depositing post-dated checks early, contacting you via postcard, taking your property through illegal means, or attempting to collect any additional interest or fees that were not allowed in your contract.

This post has provided a general overview of harassing debt collection practices, however, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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Rothschild & Ausbrooks, PLLC
1222 16th Avenue South, Suite 12
Nashville, TN 37212

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