Dealing with a debt collector harassing you can be just plain scary.
When you have debt that’s gone bad and been placed in a collection agency, it very easy to avoid the situation or even completely ignore it when you feel like there is no way you’ll be able to pay it.
That’s why some debt collectors will resort to whatever it takes get your attention, even if it’s illegal.
Some Debt Collectors Do Crazy Things
Most debt collection agencies are very professional and do their best to follow the rules on debt collection set by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). However, there are a large number of debt collection agencies that are willing to do just about anything to collect a bad debt.
Some of them will threaten arrest and jail, even telling clients that they will call the police to pick them up immediately if they don’t pay their outstanding debt right now.
These jerks will find every method they can to harass people on the telephone, through email, even on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Some of the worst debt collectors have gone so far as to threaten physical harm, home foreclosure, and even threatening to exhume the body of a deceased girl whose funeral expenses had not been paid.
What a Debt Collector Can’t Do
Those tactics are obviously highly illegal and seriously ridiculous, but it happens so often that the FTC receives close to 200,000 complaints every year about the tactics of these abusive debt collectors.
So what can a debt collector legally do when attempting to collect a bad debt?
First, let’s talk about what a debt collector can’t do.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
- They can’t have you arrested. Debtor’s prison doesn’t exist anymore.
- They can’t threaten to physically harm you (unless you borrowed money from your local mob boss, then you’re playing by his rules).
- They can’t call you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm
- They can’t take your home or threaten to take your home.
- They can’t have you deported.
- They can’t publish or tell anyone else that you have an outstanding debt.
- They can’t threaten to have custody of your child taken away.
- They can’t call you at all if you asked them in writing to stop, or if you’ve hired an attorney.
What Can You Do?
So, what actions can you take if they don’t follow the rules?
If you’re being harassed by a debt collector and they’re using these tactics, you have options available to fight back and eventually stop that illegal behavior. Here are a few things you can do:
- Call the Collection Agency- You should do this first. It might be an ethical debt collection company that’s willing to work with you to collect the debt, and the one person that contacted you is just a bad apple. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, try the others below.
- Hire an Attorney- This is your best bet for immediate help. Do your best to provide detailed records that back up your complaint. A lawyer who is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates will be more likely to have experience in these kinds of cases.
- Make Sure You Have it in Writing- The collection agency attempting to collect the bad debt must send you written notice of who you owe, how much you owe, and what to do if you don’t think you owe the money. They have to do this within 5 days of their initial contact with you. If they haven’t done this first, they can’t contact you by any other means.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state attorney general’s office.
Prevent Additional Debt Problems
Hopefully, dealing with debt collectors is something you’ll never have to do. But if you do, this information will certainly come in handy and help keep you from additional problems.
Of course, if you have a lot of debt and you’re tired of that debt dragging you down like Kanye’ at an awards show, maybe it’s time to say “I’m done with debt!” Stop the excuses and do something about it. My “Celebrating Financial Freedom” online course is available here. You won’t regret it.
Question: Have you ever had to deal with a debt collector harassing you? Leave a comment and tell me what they did.