Some people fall behind in their bills due to personal hardship like an illness or the death of a loved one. Other people habitually rack up debts that they have no intention of paying. The people who work as bill or debt collectors have no way of knowing whether you are an honest person struggling with a hard time or someone unethical trying to avoid their legal responsibilities.
Unfortunately, many debt collectors treat everyone that they contact poorly because they assume that person decided to ignore their responsibilities. These collectors may be aggressive, abrasive and accusatory. Their behavior can seem like harassment or abuse.
Sometimes, debt collectors take things too far and violate people’s rights and federal debt collection laws. The following three examples are among the most common kinds of abuse people endure from debt collectors.
- The debt collector calls you repeatedly or at inappropriate times
There are federal rules that limit how frequently a debt collector can call you, what time of day they can call and where they can call you. For example, if your employer doesn’t let you take personal calls while on the clock, you have the right to tell them not to call you at work. If they insist on calling you there despite your warnings that it could cost you your job, they may have broken the law.
The same is true for debt collectors who call you before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night. Even calls during the permissible time frames could violate your rights if you work a second or third shift job and have asked them not to call during the day while you sleep.
- The debt collector threatens you
Getting personal is a tactic employed by some collection agents. They know that when people feel attacked or offended, they may be more likely to take action, such as paying off a debt to put an end to the call. There have been instances of debt collectors making threats of bodily harm against a person or threatening them with legal action that the company cannot actually pursue, like throwing someone in debtor’s jail.
- The debt collector could harass your neighbors and family
When collectors don’t get the results they want, they sometimes go to extreme measures. If they can’t get you to answer the phone, for example, they may reach out to anyone who has a connection with you. They might embarrass you by telling people they want to collect a debt and need your contact information.
If debt collectors have made your life a nightmare, you have rights. You can potentially hold them accountable for their violations of the law and your rights.