February 20, 2010

How to Stop Debt Collector Harassment

Is a debt collector calling you all the time, to the point that it is harassing and you just don't want to deal with it anymore? I have a remedy for you, but before I tell you about it I want to point out that I usually recommend to Indiana consumers that they be PROACTIVE in handling their debt. Most of the time, being proactive is the way to go, whether it be by contacting creditors to set up payment plans, contacting a consumer law attorney to defend you against a debt collector (even before the debt collector files a lawsuit against you), hiring a debt payment service to handle the process of paying your debts down or making an appointment with a bankruptcy attorney. The remedy I am about to tell you about is simple, but not very proactive.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law that regulates debt collectors, states that a debt collector must cease all communication with you if you inform them IN WRITING that you refuse to pay the debt or wish the debt collector to cease further communication with you. The letter to the debt collector can be as simple as: "You contacted me concerning x debt. Please cease all communication with me concerning this debt. Thank you." If you don't owe the debt or all that they say you do, tell them that. I highly recommend that you send this notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice is effective as of the date they sign for it. The debt collector can then only contact you to tell you they aren't going to contact you anymore, to tell you they are going to sue you, or by actually suing you. If the debt collector contacts you by any method and it's not for one of these three reasons, they have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You should contact a consumer law attorney.

I should note that sometimes the debt collector will NEVER END UP SUING YOU after you ask them to cease all communication. Let's say just for the sake of total speculation that the odds that a lawsuit will be filed, for every debt in the U.S., is 50/50. There are many reasons why no lawsuit is ever filed, but unfortunately it is not possible to predict your prospects for any particular debt. So you are taking a chance that you will eventually be sued, but if you do not intend to pay the debt collector anyway, I am not sure what you have to lose.

Finally, this method for stopping harassment applies only to legal harassment. If the debt collector is contacting others to try to get you to pay the debt, calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., is threatening or abusive, threatens action that can't really be taken, misrepresents who they are or lies, you need to contact a consumer law attorney immediately. A consumer law attorney can help you bring this kind of conduct to a halt, and can hold the debt collector accountable for their actions. Perhaps they can even help you stop this from happening to someone else.

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