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Debt Collectors Continue to Violate Anti-Harassment Laws, Study Finds

Debt collector holding a past due notice

Debt collection is a serious industry, bringing in about $13.7 billion every year. Anyone who has been contacted by a debt collector knows that these companies can be highly aggressive in the tactics they use to get you to pay up. While laws exist that are intended to prevent threatening or harassing contact from debt collectors, a recent survey has found that collections companies routinely violate these laws.

Rules exist protecting consumers from harassment regarding debts

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from being harassed or threatened by unscrupulous debt collectors. The laws make it illegal to contact consumers before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm. They bar collections agencies from contacting a debtor’s friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers about that debt, unless they are seeking to confirm a debtor’s location. Debt collectors may not lie to consumers, nor may they threaten consumers with incarceration should they fail to pay a debt. Once a consumer has requested in writing that a debt collector stop calling them, the debt collector is nearly always required to comply with that request.

Debt collectors found to violate laws against harassment

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau conducted a survey of US consumers regarding their experience with debt collectors. According to their survey of over 2,000 individuals, 32% had been contacted by a debt collector in the past year. Among those, about 1/3 had been contacted outside the permissible hours for debt collectors to call, and 40% had gotten at least four calls in a week. 40% of those contacted by a debt collector had asked the collector to stop calling, but 75% of those individuals continued to receive calls. What’s worse, half of the consumers who reported being contacted by a debt collection agency said that the debt that the collection agency was trying to collect wasn’t even theirs, or was in an incorrect amount.

Harassment victims may have the basis for a lawsuit

Debt collectors that violate the FDCPA can face serious consequences for their conduct. The law permits a consumer who has been subjected to illegal harassment by a debt collector to file a lawsuit against that company in federal court, and consumers could be entitled to damages for the harassment they experienced. Speak with a lawyer if you believe you’ve been the victim of threatening or harassing conduct by a debt collector.

If you’ve been the victim of harassment by a debt collector, or are struggling to keep up with mounting medical or credit card debt, contact the knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced Hudson Valley bankruptcy attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for assistance with your claims, at 845-331-4100 (Kingston), or 845-236-4411 (Marlboro).

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Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP, is located in Kingston, NY and Marlboro, NY and serves clients in and around Ulster County as well as parts of Orange, Dutchess, Columbia and Greene Counties as well as many surrounding areas.

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