Credit is fundamental to the US financial system. Without a credit usage history, you might find it hard to apply for credit cards, find housing, or even get a job. However, credit can also be dangerous. If you’re not careful to monitor your usage and stay on top of your payments, It’s all too easy to realize one of your accounts has gone into collections.
If that happens, you might become the victim of creditor harassment. Threatening creditors can ruin your finances and make you uncomfortable in your own home. Some may even contact your friends, family, and employer, potentially ruining your life.
Luckily, you don’t need to put up with creditor threats. Keep reading to learn what creditor harassment is, when communication crosses the line into threats, and what you can do to make the harassment stop for good.
Who Counts as a Creditor?
The word “creditor” applies to anyone you owe a legal debt. Common creditors include credit card companies, hospitals, car dealerships, and banks. However, these institutions often don’t want to bother trying to collect late debts. Instead of spending the time and energy pursuing every late account, they will sell delinquent debts to collections agencies that specialize in collecting late payments.
Your original creditor receives a portion of the money they’re owed from the collections agency, and the agency then becomes your new creditor. That gives them the right to pursue you for the total unpaid amount of the original debt.
What Is Creditor Harassment
Creditor harassment is any kind of unreasonable or illegal behavior a creditor uses to try to get you to pay your debts. Collections agencies are responsible for a large percentage of harassment due to the nature of their business. These companies purchase unpaid debts intending to profit by making sure you pay them the debt in full, potentially plus interest.
For that reason, many shady collection agencies will harass or even threaten people to get them to pay. Harassment can look like this:
- Constantly calling you about your debts
- Threatening to tell your employer about your debts
- Demanding you make payments you can’t afford
- Threatening unjustified legal action
However, these tactics are illegal. If you understand when creditor communications cross the line into harassment, you can fight back.
When Creditor Communication Becomes Threatening
There’s a fine line between legal communication from your creditors and illegal harassment and threats or harassment. Your creditors are allowed to take reasonable actions to attempt to collect debts, but they have to follow strict rules. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), legal communications must:
- Inform you about who they are with every communication
- Only contact you during reasonable hours
- Tell you the amount owed and where the debt originated
- Prove that you owe the debt before pursuing it
Meanwhile, federal law specifically bars creditors from doing things like:
- Using “obscene or profane” language
- Repeatedly calling you just to annoy or harass you or the person answering the phone
- Threaten you with physical harm
- Publishing your name publicly
- Lie about who they are
- Threaten you with illegal actions
- Threaten you with things they don’t intend to do
- Threaten to arrest you
If your debt collectors are doing any of the above things, they’re misleading you at best and harassing you at worst. If so, it’s time to take action and stop them from ruining your life.
How to Make Creditor Threats Stop
If you’re suffering creditor harassment or threats, you have the right to make them stop. Under the FDCPA, you can sue debt collectors for illegal harassment and force them to stop attacking you. Here’s how to stop creditor threats for good.
1. Learn Your Rights
In addition to the protections above, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized the new Debt Collection Rule in November 2021. Under this rule, you have the following rights:
- The right to receive a debt collection validation notice that tells you the debt collector’s name and mailing address, the creditor’s name, an itemized account of the amount you owe, and information about how to dispute debts.
- The right not to be harassed by phone calls; collectors are only allowed to call you seven times total in seven days.
- The right to be informed about a debt before it’s reported to credit agencies.
If debt collectors violate any of these practices, they’re breaking the law, and you have grounds to sue.
2. Request Certified Proof of Debt
If you haven’t received a debt collection validation notice, you should request certified proof of your debts. The collector should have the original documents that prove they have the right to collect the debt and that it has not yet been paid. If they don’t provide proof, you have the right to dispute the debt entirely.
3. Document All Communication
Always keep records of how collectors contact you. Keep all letters, voice mails, emails, and other digital messages they send you. If you talk to them on the phone, keep notes about what they said and when they called. This will help you prove that you’re being harassed.
4. Get Legal Help
The most crucial step to ending creditor harassment is to get legal help. Debt collectors often have a legal team on their side to pursue claims, so it’s only fair that you have an experienced attorney helping you fight back. Experienced creditor harassment attorneys can help you dispute debts, collect evidence of harassment, and take your claim to court if the collector doesn’t back down.
Stop Putting Up with Creditor Threats
An unpaid account should never ruin your life. If you’re being threatened by debt collectors, you can and should fight back. The experts at the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C. are here to help you take action against creditor harassment campaigns. We have decades of experience helping people like you stand up to bullying creditors and forcing them to stand down. Take the first step towards a harassment-free future by scheduling your free consultation with our qualified credit lawyers today.