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What constitutes harassment or abuse in debt collection?


A common fear among Texas residents who are in the midst of financial difficulty is how to deal with pressure from their creditors. Creditors have rights to pursue payment, but that does not mean they can break the law in the process. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the creditors are strictly limited in what they can and cannot do. If their activities cross the line into harassment or abuse, then the debtor has certain protections under the law.

Understanding what constitutes harassment or abuse is key when trying to reference this law to be protected. The debt collector is not allowed to take part in activities that harass, oppress or abuse the creditor. There are multiple violations that can result from this type of behavior. The creditor or debt collector cannot threaten violence or other criminal activities that imply harm to the debtor's person, reputation or property. It is also not allowed to use obscenities or profanity to abuse the person from whom the debt is trying to be collected.

The collectors are also not allowed to publish a list of consumers who are refusing to pay their debts unless it is to a consumer reporting agency or to those who meet the legal criteria for receiving such information. It is not legal to advertise selling the debt in order to coerce the debtor to pay. Ringing a telephone or speaking to the debtor over the telephone on a repeated or continuous basis intending to harass, annoy or abuse him or her at that number is illegal. Generally, the collector cannot call without disclosing his or her identity.

It is difficult enough to be in debt without the means to pay off that debt in a timely fashion. Those who are dealing with this issue will understand the stress that accompanies it. With the Fair Debt Collection Act, debtors should not have to worry about the above-listed behaviors coming to pass. Unfortunately, some debt collectors are willing to violate the law in their attempts at collection. If this is the case, those who are being victimized have rights. To exercise those rights, they should contact and speak to an experienced attorney.

Source: ftc.gov, "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act -- 806. Harassment or abuse, pages 7-8," accessed on Aug. 30, 2016

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