Following times of peak shopping seasons, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, many consumers find they are unable to pay amounting debt which accumulated, so quickly, often without notice by the debtor. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, companies to which the debtor owes money, in addition to debt collection agencies, are limited in the types of debts which may be recovered as well as the methods which may be pursued to recover outstanding financial debt. As a consumer in debt, understanding the methods which may not be employed by the debt collection agency will ensure the consumer is not subjected to undue harassment.
For many consumers with outstanding debt in arrears, complaints of debt collection agencies often include threats of harassment and violence including threats to limit the consumer’s ability to eat to threats of violence to acquire funds from the consumer’s life insurance policy. As a consumer, it is important to understand these threats are not permitted under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
As a consumer with debt, there are methods which can be employed to discontinue the threatening and violent written and verbal communications. Most often, the method which is recommended is the use of a home phone recording system which will record the statements of the debt collection agency. Upon documenting the verbal or written threats of violence, the consumer with debt can proceed through local, state or federal court in an effort to sue the debt collection agency for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Often, this approach is most beneficial when several debtors create one lawsuit to achieve maximum results.
For consumers who are feel the collection methods by the debt collection agency are a type of harassment, whether verbal or written, may request the debt collection agency cease all communication. To do so, the consumer must submit a written request to the debt collection agency, advising communication should be discontinued. Upon receipt of the cessation letter from the consumer, the debt collection agency will no longer be permitted to make verbal or written communications in an attempt to collect the debt but may continue to pursue debt recovery through legal processes. Following submission of a cessation letter to the debt collection agency, no further debt collection notices may be sent in writing except to advise of the legal action which is in process.
As with any debt collection process, it is always beneficial for the debtor to understand the rights and protections granted under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Unfortunately, for many consumers, the protections under the Act are rarely outlined and, therefore, lead to many cases of undue harassment, threats and, oftentimes, a breakdown of communication between the debtor and the debt collection agency.
For more information regarding debt collection and consumer rights, visit www.cccs.org.