A Washington Lawyer’s Perspective on Telephone Harassment by Debt Collectors and Suits
In some instances, the harassment you may be experiencing comes from debt collectors: the harassment may get so bad you want to hire a lawyer to sue. Before calling a lawyer’s office, review the federal regulations in Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that covers what a debt collector can and cannot do when trying to collect money they believe is owed. Calling us before doing this is a waste of time for anyone.
The Federal Trade Commission has a helpful site which breaks down the key rules, the public’s rights, and suggests ways to protect oneself. The site brings up the fact that you will want to talk to the debt collector at least once. This is an extremely important point which must be emphasized. You cannot simply ignore the debt collector and hope he goes away. The collectors can keep on calling you repeatedly and leaving you messages until they receive confirmation you have received their notices. During that phone call you can then instruct the debt collector to not call you again. Your debt will not go away but this should help alleviate the stress of the constant phone calls and this is a necessary step before you even think about calling a lawyer and asking them for help.
It is also important to document every interaction you have with a debt collector. This includes what was said by you and the collector, when calls were made, etc. If the debt collecting reaches the point where it becomes abusive and harassment, your notes documenting every interaction and what you have been experiencing will be extremely helpful to fight for your rights. Cell phone records can be very helpful.
In certain circumstances, a debt collector’s methods may end up violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you think your debt collector is being abusive to this point and you are being harassed, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney who can provide you with additional advice. That attorney may even advise you that you suffered sufficient abuse to warrant suing the debt collector as attorney fees are possible in these kinds of cases.