How the FDCPA and the automatic stay help stop bill collectors from harassing you

Do you enjoy being harassed by bill collectors who ask excessive invasive questions and never seem to let up? Nobody enjoys harassment by creditors. There are several ways you can protect yourself from the harassment including making them stop calling you for good if you decide that the relief offered by the bankruptcy courts will put you in a better place. If you do not qualify or feel the need to discharge debts, but you still want the harassment to stop, you should get to know the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).

The law in the FDCPA says debt collectors are not allowed to harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact. The following are a few of examples of harassment[i]:

  • Repetitious phone calls that are intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you or any person answering the phone;
  • Obscene or profane language;
  • Threats of violence or harm;
  • Publishing lists of people who refuse to pay their debts;
  • Calling you without telling you who they are.

The FDCPA also says that debt collectors cannot use false, deceptive, or misleading practices. These are several examples of misrepresentations about the debt at issue[ii]:

  • The amount owed;
  • That the person is an attorney;
  • False threats to have you arrested;
  • Threats to do things that cannot legally be done;
  • Threats to do things that the debt collector has no intention of doing.

It might be a good idea to print a copy of this list of harassing conduct and otherwise inappropriate behavior and keep it near your phone. If a creditor seems to step out of line, ask them for their name and operator identification number and let them know you are concerned they are violating the FDCPA and you are warning them to stop the harassment. Many will apologize and take another approach to collect a debt. If they disagree and continue causing you problems you can submit a complaint with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) by calling (855) 411-2372. The CFPB may also take an online complaint through their website. Additionally, you can file a report with the office of the Illinois Attorney General.

The automatic stay provision in the bankruptcy code can also stop bill collectors in their tracks.

When an individual files a petition for bankruptcy protection an automatic provision of the bankruptcy kicks in – the automatic stay. While a bankruptcy case is active, the that a Chapter 7 or 13, no creditors or collectors may contact or harass the individual in bankruptcy. To learn more, read Chicago bankruptcy attorney Joseph Wrobel’s article, “Examples of the automatic stay and how it operates in bankruptcy law.”

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

[i] U.S. Govt. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, What is harassment by a debt collector? Updated 9/15/2014.

[ii] See HNi above