How Many Times Can a Company Call You Before It's Harassment

  • How Many Times Can a Company Call You Before It's Harassment
04 Apr, 2024
Daniel Cohen
8 min
361
man gets angry because of a lot of calls

We explore when debt collection calls become harassment. Sometimes, the law makes it clear. There are times, though, when the line gets blurry.

Identify when debt collector calls become harassment and the steps you can take under legal frameworks. Consumer Attorneys can help You for free! Creditors hire third-party debt collectors to collect debts from consumers. The law imposes limits to when, how often, and where these debt collectors can call you. There are also limits to the substance of what they can say to you. Consumer Attorneys can help you determine if a debt collector has exceeded their limits.

Quick Answers

While the people who are calling you about your debts are just doing their jobs, there comes a point where their jobs become harassment. While debt collector calls might feel like harassment from the outset, these calls do not rise to the level of the type of harassment over which you can sue until those callers violate the law. The factors that can make these calls harassment are how often they call in a seven-day period, how many times they call you in a day, when they call, whether they are honest about how much you owe the creditor, what they say and how they say it, and if they listen to you when you tell them to stop.

But we understand how aggravating these calls can be, especially when you are trying to pay what you owe. We encourage you to contact us as soon as the calls begin. A debt collection harassment lawyer will listen to you, listen to what’s happening, assess your case, advise you on how to keep records of calls and advise you on how to proceed. Do not wait until things reach a certain point before you contact us. That way, should an appropriate time to take legal action arise, we will already be acquainted and be ready to do so.

This article identifies those actions to take when these collectors overstep.

What Specifically Counts as Creditor Harassment?

To consider whether what creditors and debt collectors do constitutes harassment, you have to understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”). Congress passed the FDCPA in 1978 to protect consumers from harassment and unfair debt collection practices. The FDCPA provides clear and finite guidelines on what creditors and the collectors they hire can and cannot do.

The FDCPA does not apply to creditors collecting for themselves. It only applies to third-parties attempting to collect the debts of another person or entity. The FDCPA outlines several specific behaviors that, if done by debt collectors, constitute harassment.

Debt Collector Actions that are Harassment Under the FDCPA

  • Making repeated and unwanted phone calls. How many times a day can a creditor call you before it becomes harassment? It depends. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling anyone with the specific intent of abusing, annoying, or otherwise harassing anyone. Including you. See below for specific guidelines on how often they can call you.
  • Using profane language. They must not use obscene or profane language during their communication with consumers.
  • Threatening. The FDCPA prohibits them from making threats of violence or harm towards the person, property, or reputation of a debtor.
  • Publishing the names of debtors. They may only send your name to certain reporting agencies. They may not publish lists of consumers who have not paid creditors.
  • Calling without telling you who they are. Debt collectors must tell you who they are as soon as they call you. They can not call you anonymously or pretend to be someone else or mislead you into thinking they are someone else. They also must tell you the creditor they are calling for.
  • Calling at inappropriate times. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling you before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m.
  • Contacting you at work. They must not contact you at your work or discuss your finances or financial obligations with your employer.
  • Making false statements. Debt collectors cannot lie or exaggerate when they talk to you. trying to collect a debt. For example, they cannot exaggerate your financial obligations, the penalty for not paying, or imply they have the backing of the government.
  • Threatening legal action. They cannot threaten to take any legal action that is not permitted or that they do not intend to take.
  • Contacting you after you ask them to stop.If you have formally requested in writing that a debt collector cease communications with you, they must stop contacting you. The only reason they may contact you after that formal request is to alert you of specific things like the creditor is filing a lawsuit against you.

Knowing what amounts to creditor harassment is crucial for knowing when you are being harassed or if someone is violating your rights. We recommend keeping a record of all the times a debt collector contacts you. If possible, record phone calls to get evidence of the tone and substance of calls. And if you encounter any of these behaviors, contact the consumer lawyers at Consumer Attorneys. Remember, the FDCPA exists to shield you from harassment. It's not just about frequency; it's about the intent and impact of those calls on your daily life.

Federal Regulations Limit the Frequency of Phone Calls Made by a Debt Collector

While the intent, substance, and tone of these calls are evidence of harassment, the FDCPA also sets very specific guidelines on when and how often a collector can contact you.

  • They must not call you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. Those times are your times, in your time zone.
  • How many calls is considered harassment? Debt collectors cannot call you more than seven times in seven days. That doesn’t mean they can call you three times in one day and four times the next day - that would likely violate the intent of the FDCPA.
  • How often can a bill collector call you? If a debt collector has a conversation with you, they must wait seven days before they try to contact you again.

Again, a debt collector can stay within the boundaries of the above and still harass you if the tone, language, and substance of what they say violate the FDCPA. If they call you just once but with the intention of annoying you, they are violating federal law. You must keep a record of these calls. They will be the evidence we need if we determine that legal action is necessary.

Dealing with Multiple Calls in a Day from the Same Debt Collector: Action Steps

If you are receiving multiple calls in a day from the same collector, we advise you to do the following.

  • Answer the call. Tell them that the frequency of their contact is disruptive and ask them to reduce the number of calls.
  • Document the conversation. Document the number, time, date, creditor associated with the call, and method of contacts. Take screenshots of call logs on your phone.
  • Call an attorney. Contact your debt collector harassment attorney at Consumer Attorneys.
  • Send a written request. Ask them to stop calling you. Keep a copy of this letter for your records.
  • Keep track. If the calls continue, continue to document each call, noting the time, date, and content of the conversation.

What Doesn't Meet the Criteria for Creditor Harassment?

While calls from debt collectors can feel like harassment, especially when you are trying your best and working hard to pay your bills, not all calls will constitute harassment.

Main Points

  • If a debt collector contacts you occasionally, within the hours specified by the FDCPA, it's likely not harassment.
  • If they speak courteously and professionally, it likely isn’t harassment.
  • If a debt collector is trying to reach you for the first time or provides you with legally required notices, those don't count as harassment.

Still, we advise you to document all the attempts at contact a debt collector makes. They will not announce that they are crossing the line between permitted behavior and harassment. It will just happen.

Is a Debt Collector Bombarding You with Calls? Contact Us for Assistance

If you have creditors and are currently in debt and receiving calls from debt collectors, call Consumer Attorneys right away. We want you to contact us as soon as the contacts begin since the line between permitted contacts and prohibited contacts is a fine one. Our attorneys are always eager to talk to you.

Call 1-877-615-1725 to talk to one of our credit report attorneys to assess your case.

Fill out our Contact Us form or start a LIVE CHAT with an attorney.

Write to us at info@consumerattorneys.com. We look forward to hearing from and helping you.

We are experienced debt collection harassment attorneys who are proud to defend consumers against harassing debt collection tactics and have been successful in taking action against harassers and recovering compensation from them to give to the consumers they have wronged. Our team will review your case, advise you on your rights, stand by you, and take legal action if your situation warrants. Contact us for assistance and regain your peace of mind.

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About the author
Daniel Cohen
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Daniel Cohen is a Founding Partner of Consumer Attorneys and a co-chair of Consumer Finance Litigation practice. Since 2017, he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center. Mr. Cohen is a nationally-recognized practitioner of consumer protection law. He has a wealth of proven legal experience in the US in: collective claims, representing visually impaired people who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated in both the physical and digital environments, corporate governance and dispute resolution. Read more

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