Harassment by a Debt Collector: What Collection Tactics are Illegal?
Harassment by debt collectors means doing something illegal under by the federal law (FDCPA) or state law (in California, the RFDCPA) in trying to collect a debt. If a debt collector has used any illegal tactic against you in the past year, we can help you. We can stop the debt collector from contacting you, can force the debt collector to correct any mistakes in their claim of debt, and can sue the debt collector to seek money for you, attorney's fees, and costs.
The types of harassment that are illegal under the federal FDCPA or state RFDCPA are below. If you have any questions or believe any of these tactics were used against you during the past year, please write me for courteous consultation. I will be glad to help you.
A debt collector MUST tell you in writing that you have the right to ask for correction and / or verification (proof) of the debt. Once you ask, a debt collector MUST correct, explain, or else prove the amount you owe. Until they do, they can't contact you again. It is illegal for a debt collector to ignore your requests and questions about the amount and still keep contacting you.
If you tell a debt collector to stop contacting you, the only thing they can do is send you a final letter saying that contacts will stop and/or that the debt may or will be collected by legal or court action, which can have consequences. That's it.
A debt collector can contact other people such as friends and neighbors to ask for your address, phone number, and where you work. The debt collector can't ask anything else about you, tell them about the debt, use debt collection words or symbols on a letter or envelope, or contact them more than once unless they request or the debt collector reasonably believes a person can now correct an earlier mistake or incomplete information about your location. The debt collector can't say who he works for unless asked, or leave telephone messages.
Although a debt collector can tell your spouse or your parents (only if you are under 21) about the debt, everyone else in your family can only be contacted as in #3, above.
A debt collector can only contact your employer to locate you, confirm your employment, garnish your wages after a court judgment against you, or find out if you have medical insurance when collecting a medical debt. A debt collector can't contact your employer for any other reason, or otherwise tell them about the debt.
A debt collector can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or at a place they know is inconvenient for you, unless you agree to it. They can't call you at work if they know your employer does not allow collection calls to employees. They can't call you so often that it is harassing (for example, they can't call you many times every day).
The debt collector can't send you envelopes with information about the debt or about you, except for the debt collector's name and return address and your name and address. The debt collector's name can't imply debt collection. No postcards are allowed.
The debt collector can't lie to you, threaten you with violence or embarrassment or threaten to tell other people about you or the debt, insult you, or use obscenity when talking to you. They can't falsely claim that you have only hours to pay the debt, or claim that they will take your belongings to pay the debt, or claim they work for the government or courts. They can't do anything else that a reasonable person would consider an abuse (this can include a lot of things).
The debt collector can't make a false report about the debt to a credit bureau, or not tell the credit bureau that you dispute the amount of the debt.
Federal and California debt collector laws have a long list of forbidden debt collection conduct, and the court system has forbidden even more. Even if something is not listed above, it may still be forbidden. We can answer all of your questions in a no-charge consultation.
If you are a California resident and any of these things have happened to you within the past year, or if you have endured any other kind of abuse or harassment by debt collectors, please write me. It does not matter if you owe the amount claimed, a lower amount, or no amount. We can help you.