6 Illegal Bill Collection Tactics to Watch For

The phone is ringing again, but you don’t pick up because you’re pretty sure who it is: that collection agency that’s been chasing you for overdue credit card or loan payments. You offered to do a payment arrangement, but they wanted their money NOW and used abusive language when you demurred. Is there anything you can do to stop the harassment?

Actually, yes.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a consumer protection law that regulates what third party debt collectors can and cannot do to make you pay a bill. Unfortunately, predatory collection agencies know that many consumers are too unfamiliar with their rights to sue them or even lodge a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Below are six commonly used—and illegal—bill collection tactics. If you are subjected to any of them, you may have legal recourse.

Calling You Outside Approved Hours

Unless you agree, a debt collector cannot call you outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in your time zone Monday to Saturday. If your phone is going off at midnight, during the predawn hours, or on official holidays such as Christmas, the debt collector may be breaking the law.

Threatening You

It is illegal for a debt collector to use threats, physical, verbal, or otherwise, to coerce you into paying. For example, they cannot tell you that they’re going to garnish your wages, seize your bank account, or send the sheriff over if there is no court order allowing them to do so.

Using Abusive Language

No debt collector may use profane or obscene language as an intimidation tactic. If they call and immediately begin swearing at you, using sexist or racist language, or using any other kind of verbal abuse, hang up and call us.

Discussing Your Debt With Third Parties

Collection agencies are only allowed to discuss your debt with you, your spouse, or your attorney. While they are legally permitted to contact third parties like your family and employer to verify your whereabouts and employment status, they are only allowed to call these people once and may not divulge any information about your debt.

Failing to Identify Themselves Properly

A debt collector is legally obligated to identify themselves correctly and tell you that their reason for contacting you is to collect a debt. They may not pretend to be police officers, government agents, or attorneys when they are not, but many make this claim to scare an unwary consumer into paying.

Contacting You After a Cease Communications Request

If you send a written request for a collection agency to stop calling you, they have to comply. Although they are free to escalate the matter by suing you and retain an attorney to notify you of an upcoming lawsuit, they cannot call you directly any more. If they do, they may have violated the FDCPA.

If debt collectors are using illegal tactics to bully or stress you into paying them, call the consumer rights team at Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We can deal with the collection agency on your behalf so that they stop harassing you, and protect your rights in court if they persist in taking things too far.