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   DEBT COLLECTOR HARASSMENT

Are you getting harassing or threatening calls from a debt collector?

They may owe you money.

 

DEBT COLLECTOR HARASSMENT

Get treated fairly and stop the endless calls to your home and work.

Even if you're behind on your bills, lenders, creditors and debt collectors are required to treat you with respect.  The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), the Connecticut Creditors' Collection Practices Act ("CCPA") and the Connecticut Consumer Collection Agencies Act ("CCA") are laws that protect consumers from debt collectors' abusive and harassing behavior.  Violations of these laws may cause the debt collector or creditor to owe YOU money.

Consumer Rights Under the FDCPA

What is covered under the FDCPA?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") is a federal law and applies to companies (and sometimes individuals) that are trying to collect a debt on behalf of another company.  The protections in the FDCPA apply only for "consumer debts,"  which means that if the debt collector is calling about a business debt, the FDCPA rules do not apply.  A debt is a "consumer debt" if it came from your personal, family or household use.  Personal credit cards, short term ("payday" loans), auto loans, personal phone bills, home utilities and other expenses are generally considered "Consumer debt."

What does the FDCPA Prohibit?

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices in an attempt to collect a debt.  Some of the types of activities that are illegal under the FDCPA are

  • Continuing to contact you and asking you to pay the debt after you have told the debt collector, in writing, to stop contacting you.

  • Contacting you to collect the debt before providing you with proof that the debt is owed, if you have notified the debt collector that the debt is disputed.

  • Calling you at any time that the debt collector knows is inconvenient for you.  Before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM is presumed to be inconvenient.

  • Calling you at work when the debt collector knows, or has reason to know, that your employer does not allow you to take personal phone calls at work.

  • Contacting your friends, neighbors or family without your permission and sharing information about your debt, or that they are attempting to collect a debt from you.

  • Continuing to contact you about a debt if the debt collector knows you are represented by an attorney, provided that they have been given the name and contact information of your attorney.

  • Threatening you with violence or physical harm.

  • Using obscene or profane language, including swearing at you.

  • Calling your number, or the number of someone you know, repeatedly in order to annoy or harass you or the recipient of the call. 

  • Not telling you who is calling. 

  • Misrepresenting the amount or legal status of your debt, meaning, a debt collector cannot falsely represent that you are being sued if a lawsuit has not been filed.

  • Falsely implying or saying that the debt collector is an attorney.

  • Telling you that you can go to jail for not paying a debt.

  • Threatening any action that the debt collection does not intend to take (like filing a lawsuit), or that cannot legally be taken.

  • Using a false name.

  • Misleading you with respect to legal documents.

  • Telling you that they are employed for a credit bureau such as Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.  

  • Calling you on your cell phone after you have asked the debt collector not to call you on your cell phone.

Information that the Debt Collector Has To Tell You

In addition to the above, there is certain information a debt collector must tell you. If the debt collector fails to do this, they have violated the FDCPA.

A debt collector must tell you, in both their first letter or email to you, as well as in their first phone call to you, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. In any followup calls, letters or emails, the debt collector must disclose that the communication is from a debt collector.   

Additionally, within 5 days of the initial phone call, email or letter, or in the initial email or letter, the debt collector must tell you, in writing:

  • The amount of the debt

  • The name of the person or company that the debt is owed to

  • A statement that you have the right to dispute the debt within 30 days of the notice, and that, upon receipt of the dispute, the debt collector will provide verification of the debt to you.

  • A statement that, if you ask the debt collector to provide the name of the original person or company that you owed the debt to, they will provide that information within 30 days.

If You Don't Owe the Debt or are Unsure if you Owe the Debt

If you aren't sure if you owe the debt, or you do not owe the debt, it is important to send a dispute letter.  That letter should notify the debt collector, in writing, that you dispute the debt and request verification. The letter should also include information on where to send the verification information.

After your request for verification, the debt collector has 30 days to provide you with evidence that you owe the debt.  The debt collector may not continue to contact you until the verification information has been provided. If the debt collector does not respond to your request within 30 days, they have broken the law.

What to Do if you are Being Harassed by a Debt Collector

If you are being contacted repeatedly by a debt collector, it is important to keep track of the calls.  Note the date and time of each call, and, if you speak with someone, ask for their name and include it in your records.

If you would like the debt collector to stop calling you, you should send a letter telling the debt collector not to call you anymore.  It is always a good idea to send letters via certified mail in order to prove that they were received by the debt collector.  Always keep a copy of the letter for your records.

If you are suffering emotional distress or seeking treatment for stress relating to debt collector harassment, you should keep track of your symptoms and treatments too. 

If a debt collector keeps calling you after you have asked them to stop, or otherwise mistreats you, you should call an experienced attorney.  Hailey Rice is a Connecticut Debt Collector Harassment Lawyer, and has years of experience bringing claims against debt collectors who aren't playing by the rules.

What If I can't Afford an Attorney to Sue a Debt Collector?

The FDCPA makes the defendant responsible for the consumer's attorneys fees in a successful action. That means that, if you win or settle your case, the debt collector will pay for the cost of your attorney.  We provide ​representation in FDCPA cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we do not win, you do not have to pay.  Call us for more information.

If I Win my FDCPA Case, What will the Debt Collector Have to Pay me?

  • "Statutory Damages" of up to $1,000.  Statutory damages function like a speeding ticket and are awarded regardless of whether you suffered any actual or financial harm.

  • "Actual Damages," which cover any out of pocket losses, emotional distress, embarrassment and/or suffering.

  • "Reasonable Attorney's Fees and Costs." This will pay for your attorney's time and any court filing fees, depositions or other costs associated with bringing a lawsuit.