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How Consumers Can Protect Themselves From Aggressive Debt Collectors

Posted by CTM Legal Group | Mar 11, 2024 | 0 Comments

By Attorney Rohail Salman

In recent years, consumers have been struggling financially due to inflation, high interest rates, and numerous other economic factors. This has resulted in consumers having higher credit card utilization and at times, being unable to keep up with payments for credit cards and other bills. Many companies will send these unpaid debts to a collection agency or law firm. It's critical for consumers to stay informed about their rights if their debt has been sent for collection. Once the debt is in collections, debt collectors employ several methods to collect the debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal law that prohibits debt collectors from collecting debt by using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices against consumers. It's important to note that the FDCPA primarily applies to debt collectors such as collection agencies, debt buyers, and attorneys. This law typically does not apply to collection attempts by the original creditor or business that is owed.
While debt collectors are allowed to engage in collection attempts, consumers should be aware of which practices are considered abusive or deceptive. The FDCPA restricts debt collectors from contacting consumers at an unusual time or place. Generally, debt collectors should not make collection attempts before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Additionally, if there are other inconvenient times for a consumer, they should inform the collector, which will further restrict them from collection attempts. If debt collectors have reason to know that your workplace has restrictions for personal communications, they may not contact you there. Similarly, consumers should inform the debt collector about their workplace restrictions to put them on notice.

While phone calls and letters are the typical form of communication, debt collectors at times make collection attempts through text messages, emails, or other electronic communication. If this occurs, they are required to provide you with a reasonable method to opt out of these communications. Further, while they are restricted from publicly posting about a consumer's debt on social media, they are still allowed to make attempts privately on those same platforms. However, consumers should request to not be contacted further on social media, which will restrict those attempts.

While consumers may feel harassed by any collection attempt, examples of harassment under the FDCPA include the use of obscene or profane language, threats of violence or harm, phone calls without identifying themselves, and repeated phone calls with the intention of harassing the consumer. Additionally, debt collectors may not engage in deceptive practices by misrepresenting information regarding the debt. Debt collectors cannot misrepresent the amount owed, claim that they are an attorney if they are not, or make threats of any arrest.
The best practice is for consumers to keep a detailed record of all communications with debt collectors. It's important to keep a log of dates and times when the debt collectors called, as well as conversation details. Additionally, consumers should make a copy of all written communications between them and the debt collectors. While some consumers try to discuss or negotiate with debt collectors, they should be aware that debt collectors also make notes and keep records of all statements made to them, and then use that information against the consumer.

In the event that a debt collector continues engaging in some of these practices after you have provided a written notice for them to stop, they are likely in violation of the FDCPA. If you believe your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may have been violated, please contact CTM Legal Group at (312) 818-6700 and one of our attorneys can help you navigate the legal issues related to your debt and potentially sue to enforce your rights.

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