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Debtor protections against abuse and harassment in Texas


Texans who are in debt and have no means of paying will have enough on their minds without having to think about the various collection practices that creditors will use to try to collect. Collection companies and creditors are well aware of the reality that overwhelming debt can leave people vulnerable to manipulation and threats. This is why the State has certain rules in place to protect people in debt and stop collectors from engaging in underhanded and abusive practices. Understanding these is a way to avoid them.

There are certain protections that debtors have. When trying to collect payment on a debt, creditors and collection companies are not allowed to be abusive or engage in fraud. They cannot collect more than the amount that had been agreed upon, whether that agreement is in writing or not. If there are fees involved, such as investigatory, legal, service fees and more, then it can be increased. When there is an item in dispute, there must be written notice given to the creditor. Simply calling is not sufficient to make the collection efforts on such a debt stop. When there is an incorrect item, it is required to be corrected.

Some collectors engage in harassing and fraudulent behavior. Such acts as the threat of violence or other criminal activities, profanities, accusations of fraud against the debtor and other criminal acts, the threat of arrest or repossession of property, harassment over the telephone anonymously or repeatedly calling, and making collect calls are all acts that some collectors might try to use. These are illegal. It is also illegal to use a fake name or identification, misrepresent the amount that is owed, the judicial status of the debt, the sending of documents coercing the debtor to appear when it is not required to do so, not identifying the debt-holder, and making false representations about the consumer.

Threatening to take the debtor's home and wages is also done. In Texas, this is illegal if the home is declared a homestead, unless the debts are for the home's purchase, for home improvements, or for home equity loans.

Given the collection tactics used by some companies, it is imperative that a person understand the debtor protections they have under the law. When faced with this type of behavior, it is important to call an attorney immediately.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Debt Collection," accessed on Sept. 20, 2016

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