If you're like most Texas residents who have financially struggled from time to time, you understand how difficult it can be to get life back on track when circumstances, crises or even just poor spending habits have thrown your finances off balance. Although your intention may be to pay back any outstanding debts you happen to have at a given time, it's something that is often easier said than done.
You may have numerous options available to help you pay back debt and restore financial stability in your life. At some point, especially if you are past due on a particular account, the company holding your delinquent account may turn your debt over to a collection agency, who will then attempt to contact you to satisfy the money you owe. There's a big difference between legitimate collection practices and harassment, however. If you fall victim to the latter, you can protect your rights.
The law is on your side
The U.S. government enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to protect consumers from abusive collection practices. If your phone is ringing off the hook, people are calling you at work or someone is threatening you in an aggressive manner, you may be a victim of collections harassment. The following information explains what types of behavior are unlawful when attempting to collect a debt:
- If you answer the phone and the person on the other end claims to be attempting to collect a debt from you but refuses to identify him or herself, he or she is violating the FDCPA.
- A lender has a right to try to get you to pay any debt you owe; however, no one has the right to harass you in a relentless manner, such as continual phone calls, day after day, perhaps more than once a day.
- You do not have to put up with someone yelling at you or using profane language when they call you on the phone. Such behavior is a definite sign of harassment.
- Any misrepresentation of identity, purpose or power may also be a violation of the FDCPA. For example, if a supposed collector threatens to send police to your home to arrest you if you don't pay up or tells you that he or she is an attorney if it is not true, it violates your protection against abusive collection practices.
- No collection agency can publish your name to try to shame you into paying a debt.
These and numerous other issues would be evidence that a person or company claiming to be a legitimate collections agent is committing harassment that is punishable by law under the FDCPA.
What to do if this happens to you
Always keep documentation and thorough records of any correspondence you have with a supposed debt collector. You can exercise your rights by setting limits or altogether stopping debt collection communications if someone is harassing you. Many Texas residents seek legal support before taking action, so they know what they may or may not do under the protection of the FDCPA.