When you buy something on credit, the expectation is you will pay off your bill over time. If you fail to make your required payments, creditors have a right to try and collect what you owe. However, this does not mean that creditors have free reign to do whatever they want.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from certain creditor actions. If a creditor is harassing you or is otherwise engaging in behavior you believe is illegal, you should seek advice from a skilled professional to learn about your rights under the FDCPA. The following are three important things to keep in mind about the FDCPA.
1. You may be entitled to financial compensation
If a creditor violates the FDCPA, you may be eligible to receive compensation. The FDCPA limits the amount you can recover in statutory damages. However, you may be able to seek additional compensation for emotional stress, invasion of privacy, and other damages.
2. Creditors are supposed to be kept on a leash
Phone calls, collections letters, and even wage garnishment are generally fair game for creditors. However, the FDCPA does establish some boundaries, including prohibiting:
- Threats of violence
- Threats of a lawsuit
- Accusing people in debt of committing a crime
- The use of foul language
- Extremely late night and early morning phone calls
Remember that creditors do have some rights to seek payment. Seeking advice from a professional can help you determine whether a line was crossed.
3. You can make a claim under the FDCPA at any time
You do not have to wait for a creditor to make your life miserable to file a claim under the FDCPA. Even a single incident of prohibited behavior is enough to demand accountability. The sooner you act, the sooner you can put a stop to the harassment.
Debt struggles can happen to anyone
You are not a bad person for falling behind on your payments. Unexpected medical expenses, the loss of a job, and other situations can cause anyone to fall into debt. You do not and should not endure aggressive, harassing actions taken by bill collections.