Are you being harassed by debt collection calls? I speak with a lot of Indiana consumers, and harassing debt collection calls are one of the things I hear about over and over again. What many people don’t know is that it is relatively easy to make these calls stop. You just have to know what to do.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides boundaries for debt collectors’ telephone communications when attempting to collect a debt. They can’t call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They can’t call the consumer at a time or place known to be inconvenient to the consumer (this could include work). They can’t call the consumer at work if they know the consumer’s employer prohibits it. They can’t call a third party in connection with the collection of a consumer’s debt except to obtain location information about the consumer (and even then the debt collector cannot volunteer that they are a debt collector, cannot state that the consumer owes a debt and cannot call the third party more than once). Debt collectors also can’t call repeatedly with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass.
The FDCPA also provides that a consumer can terminate (virtually) all communication from a debt collector by notifying the debt collector in writing that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication. This written notification should be made by certified mail because it is only effective upon receipt, and you want to be able to prove it was received. Any additional communications from a debt collector after receipt of such notice violate the FDCPA. The debt collector’s only two options at that point are to sue you or leave you alone.
If the harassing calls are being made to a cell phone, there are additional rules that come into play. If the calls are being autodialed (you can usually tell an autodialer is being used because there is a delay when you answer before someone responds, there are just a lot of calls or sometimes a recorded message is left when you don’t answer), the debt collector has to have permission to call your cell phone. That permission is usually obtained when you listed your cell phone number at the time you opened the account. However, the permission can be revoked – and it doesn’t have to be in writing either. All you have to do is answer the autodialed call, speak to a real person and tell them “do not call me at this number.” Every autodialed call thereafter violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and could be worth a significant amount of money – from $500 to $1500 PER CALL.
One final way to make debt collection calls stop is to hire an attorney. A debt collector who knows a consumer is represented by an attorney may not contact the consumer directly. If all you need is to have our office handle your debt collector communications, we are often able to do that for a $500 retainer fee. If you believe a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or you want to see about hiring us to deal with debt collectors who are coming after you, please contact us here.