WHAT IS DEBT COLLECTION HARASSMENT UNDER THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
There are numerous ways that a debt collector can commit harassment or use abusive or deceptive tactics in an attempt to collect a debt, including:
- Hassling the consumer by phone with frequent, early morning, late evening or night calls
- Using inappropriate language or profanity
- Threatening the consumer’s reputation or property
- Using physical intimidation
- Contacting the consumer at their place of work after the consumer informed the debt collector not to do so
- Threatening to sue the consumer without having an actual intent to carry through with the lawsuit
- Discussing the consumer’s debt with third parties (subject to a few exceptions)
- Concealing the fact that he or she is debt collector
- Misinforming the consumer or credit bureaus regarding the sum owed (including any penalties, fees or interest)
These tactics are strictly prohibited under the FDCPA, and provide for grounds for the consumer to sue the debt collector.
UNLAWFUL COLLECTION LETTERS
A common scheme used by debt collectors to collect debts is the use of debt collection letters, which may appear imposing at first glance. However, under the FDCPA, there are a series of restrictions related to debt collection letters, and a debt collector that runs afoul of these restrictions can be found to be in strict violation of the FDCPA. Such violations include the following:
- Using any indication on the outside of the envelope that the letter is from a debt collector
- Mass-mailing letters signed by attorneys without significant attorney involvement
- Including unauthorized interest or collection charges in the collection amount
- Threatening any sort of prosecution in order to collect the debt
- Threatening to take any action that the debt collector does not intend to take or that cannot legally be taken
- Misstating the consumer’s legal rights
- Failing to advise the consumer of his or her rights to validate the debt
- Failing to include notice that the letter is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A LAWSUIT UNDER THE FDCPA
If you are the victim of a third-party debt collector’s use of harassment or abusive or deceptive tactics, you should take a series of steps to preserve all relevant facts that will be necessary to support a lawsuit under the FDCPA. You should keep a record of all the communications made by the debt collectors, such as phone calls, online chats, documentation sent via mail or e-mail, names of the people involved or even timestamps of phone calls. However, keep in mind that some states restrict the recording of phone conversations without the other party’s consent. If you live in a state that makes it illegal to record phone conversations without the other party’s consent, you should write down the details of the conversation as soon as you hang up the phone, such as the time of the call, the name of the person you spoke to, and what exactly was said.
HOW CAN COHEN AND MIZRAHI LLP HELP YOU?
If you were hassled by a debt collector, or if a debt collector used deceptive or abusive tactics in an attempt to collect a debt from you, contact the attorneys at Cohen & Mizrahi LLP now to protect your rights. The attorneys at Cohen & Mizrahi have significant experience litigating lawsuits involving FDCPA violations on behalf of their clients, at no cost to their clients. Let the attorneys at Cohen & Mizrahi LLP fight for you!