Facing overdue debts is stressful enough without harassing behavior by creditors and the debt collection agencies they employ. Both Texas and federal law protect consumers from debt collection harassment. Unfortunately, debt collectors still use aggressive practices that cross legal boundaries. Taking financial action, such as filing for bankruptcy, can stop contact from debt collectors. However, you can also hold creditors accountable for their harassment.
Creditors and debt collection agencies use harassing and abusive methods because they know people are too intimidated to stand up for themselves. Debt collectors do not have the right to harass or defraud you. The Texas Debt Collection Act defines illegal practices by debt collectors as including:
- Claiming that the debt is larger than what is actually owed;
- Threatening violence and other criminal activity;
- Using profane or obscene language;
- Making repeated and anonymous phone calls;
- Not identifying themselves during contact;
- Falsely accusing you of committing fraud;
- Claiming they can have you arrested or seize your property without court approval; and
- Lying about having vital information in order to induce you to cooperate.
It is helpful to keep track of harassing behavior by creditors and debt collectors in case you need to take legal action. A detailed account will add validity to your claim. Documentation can include:
- Saving written communications that demonstrate harassment or deception;
- Counting how frequently they contact you; and
- Remembering phone conversations, including the language and tone they used (jotting down notes immediately after the call can help with this).
In some cases, calling out creditors and debt collectors for their illegal behavior may cause them to stop. However, you may need to take legal action against them:
- You can sue a debt collector for using illegal practices in order to receive civil damages;
- You can file an official complaint with the Texas Attorney General. It is likely that several debtors are the victims of illegal collection practices. The attorney general can file a lawsuit on behalf of the state's consumers; and
- If you dispute the value of the debt that your creditor says you owe, you can send written notice claiming that there is an error. The creditor will have 30 days to investigate your claim and determine whether it is accurate.
Filing for bankruptcy can both help you resolve your debt and stop creditors and debt collectors from contacting you. However, you may need to use more aggressive measures to stop those who are using illegal practices. If you are the victim of creditor harassment, a Frisco, Texas, bankruptcy attorney at The Page Law Firm can advise you on how to stop the behavior and protect yourself. To schedule a free consultation, call 214-618-2101.
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