Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its annual summary of consumer complaints, which identified debt collection as the most common issue raised in the complaints filed. FTC coordinated an initiative with state and local partners to address the problem of illegal debt collection practices and harassment, which resulted in the agency banning 30 companies and individuals from engaging in debt collection and nearly 100 million in judgments against offending collectors.
Debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in harassing conduct as defined under federal and state law. If you have been the victim of these illegal practices, you should consult an experienced Ohio debt lawyer. Luftman, Heck & Associates has a team of compassionate and knowledgeable consumer law attorneys who can help you determine if you are being unlawfully harassed by debt collectors and can help you take steps to put a stop to this illicit conduct.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), prohibited harassment by a debt collector can occur in many different ways that are prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that governs the conduct of debt collectors. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:
- Call you repeatedly in a manner that is intended to annoy, abuse, or otherwise, harass you or other people answering the phone;
- Use profane or obscene language when contacting you or threaten you with any sort of violence or harm;
- Try to contact you without disclosing who they are and what the purpose of the call is;
- Publicly disclose lists of individuals who have not paid off their debts;
- Misrepresent information about the debt owed, their identity (for example, pretend that they are attorneys), or the actions that they are able to take (for example, threaten to have you arrested); and
- Contact others regarding the debt unless permitted by the FDCPA. Under the law, a collector may contact the debtor and his or her spouse, parent (if the person who owes the debt is a minor), guardian, executor or administrator (if the original debtor is deceased), attorney, or a consumer reporting agency.
Request to Cease Contact
Under the FDCPA, consumers have a right to tell debt collectors, in writing, to stop further communications. You may want to speak with an Ohio debt attorney before proactively engaging with a collector because you may find it beneficial to have some initial contact to verify the debt owed and see if a resolution or early settlement is feasible. Once you decide to bar further contact, your attorney can help you draft a letter to the collector. After receiving this letter, a collector may only contact you to confirm that there will be no further communication or to inform you that the creditor is filing a lawsuit against you.
You may also submit a complaint against your debt collector with the CFPB, the FTC, or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The CFPB and the FTC both have mechanisms for filing complaints online. If the collector does not cease from the harassing conduct, you are also able to file suit for violating your rights under the FDCPA and recover damages.
Talk to an Experienced Ohio Debt Attorney
If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful harassment by debt collectors, you should contact an experienced debt attorney in Ohio who can help protect your rights. You do not have to bear the stress and emotional strain of unscrupulous debt collectors without recourse. In fact, if the debt collector is violating the FDCPA, a savvy consumer attorney may be able to engage in debt settlement negotiations on your behalf because you may be entitled to damages.
To analyze your situation and figure out your next step, you should contact Luftman, Heck & Associates for assistance. Our Ohio debt attorneys will examine the circumstances surrounding your case and recommend an effective course of action.