No one in North Carolina who works hard for a living should have to be harassed by debt collectors or collection agencies. If a debt collector or collection agency harasses you, seek the advice and services of a North Carolina debt defense lawyer at once.
Some consumers in North Carolina get harassing phone calls at their jobs or late into the night. Collection agencies and debt collectors may even call your friends and family members. People report being screamed at and sometimes literally threatened by debt collectors.
Hard-working people in North Carolina do not deserve such abuse. If you experience this type of harassment from a collection agency or a debt collector, how do you put an end to it?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes these debt collection tactics illegal. Keep reading to learn what a debt collector can and cannot do legally to collect a debt, and you’ll also find out how a North Carolina debt defense attorney can stop the abuse and harassment.
What is the FDCPA’s Definition of a Debt Collector?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes abusive and intrusive debt collection tactics illegal. It is a federal law that defines your legal rights as a consumer, and it establishes penalties debt collectors and collection agencies may face for violations of those rights.
The FDCPA applies strictly to debt collectors. It defines a debt collector as an individual or business that collects debts for other parties. It doesn’t apply to original creditors collecting debts that are owed to them directly unless that creditor collects its debts under a different name.
Debt purchasers – the businesses that purchase debts to either collect the debts or resell those debts – also are governed by the FDCPA when collecting debts is a debt purchaser’s primary business activity.
Can Debt Collectors Talk to Your Loved Ones?
The FDCPA prohibits a number of abusive and deceptive debt collection tactics. For example, debt collectors and collection agencies may not contact third parties about your debt, with the following important exceptions. Debt collectors and collection agencies legally may contact:
- an original creditor
- agencies that issue credit reports
- an attorney who represents you
- your wife or husband
- your co-debtors (if any)
- if you are below age 18, your parents
One last exception to the FDCPA’s prohibition on contacting third parties is when a collection agency or debt collector is seeking to determine where you are. If a debt collector contacts a third party regarding your whereabouts, that debt collector:
- must provide his or her name and ask the third party only about your location
- may not say you are being sought regarding a debt
What Else is Illegal for Debt Collectors?
Debt collectors and collection agencies may not abuse or harass anyone, threaten or use violence against anyone, and may not put your reputation or property – or anyone else’s – at risk. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors and collection agencies may not:
- advertise to sell your debt
- identify you publicly as a debtor
- refuse or fail to identify themselves on the phone
- repetitively call you on the phone
- use obscene or abusive language
- attempt to collect more than is actually owed
- report an inaccurate debt amount to a credit bureau
- suggest or imply a connection with local, state, or federal government or law enforcement
- inaccurately represent the amount of your debt
- threaten legal action that cannot or will not happen
When May Debt Collectors Contact You?
Debt collectors may contact you legally with a phone call, an email, a text message, or through the Postal Service. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors cannot call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. unless a debt collector has your consent.
Additionally, a debt collector may not call you at your workplace after being informed that you may not receive personal calls there.
What Steps Can You Take?
When a collection agency or debt collector calls, it is important to know your rights. Don’t put up with harassment or abusive debt collection tactics. If a collection agency or debt collector threatens or verbally abuses you over the phone, end the call and block the number.
If you are the victim of any of the illegal debt collection practices listed above – or if this happens to you in the future – reach out right away to a North Carolina debt defense lawyer.
In some cases, if a collection agency or debt collector violates a consumer’s rights, the FDCPA gives the consumer the right to bring a lawsuit against the collector or agency for harassment. Consumers are awarded damages in many of these cases.
When Should You Contact a Debt Defense Attorney?
Under the FDCPA, when collection agencies and debt collectors learn that a consumer has retained a debt defense attorney, from that time forward, a debt collector or a collection agency may communicate only with the consumer’s attorney.
If a consumer’s attorney informs a debt collector or a collection agency in writing to stop communicating with the consumer, the debt collector or the agency is prohibited – with only several legal exceptions – from continuing to contact the consumer.
As mentioned previously, debt collectors and collection agencies that violate the FDCPA may be liable for damages. If you and your attorney prevail with legal action against a collection agency or a debt collector, the damages you recover will hinge on the extent and nature of the violation.
What Else Will a Debt Defense Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
If you have been harassed or abused by illegal debt collection tactics, or if this harassment or abuse happens to you in the future, contact a North Carolina debt defense attorney immediately, and stop the abuse.
If you’re overwhelmed by debts that you simply are not able to pay, a debt defense lawyer in North Carolina can advise and represent you – particularly if you are facing a home foreclosure or vehicle repossession, if your wages are being garnished, or if you are considering bankruptcy.
If you are seriously in debt, if you need to find out more about your rights as a consumer, or if you need to take legal action against a debt collector or a collection agency, pick up the phone, schedule a legal consultation, and meet with a debt defense lawyer as quickly as possible.