Your phone rings in the dead of the night and you pick it up, only to hear a creditor threatening you with dire consequences if you don't pay the money you owe him. There goes your peace of mind and any hope of being able to fall asleep after that! Creditors can turn your life into hell, with such abusive tactics. Just because you owe them money, it doesn't give them the right to treat you like this. There is legal machinery which can come to your rescue when creditors start harassing you like this.
About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The 'Federal Trade Commission (FTC)' is a US government agency created to protect consumer rights. People harassed by creditors should know that there is a piece of legislation called the 'Fair Debt Collection Practices Act' which can come to their rescue. Let me provide you with a brief overview of what falls within the purview of this consumer protection act.
This law was created to help tormented debtors, who have been victims of abusive creditors. Only household debt, auto loan debts, mortgage debt and medical billing debt are covered under this act. If you have issues regarding business debt owed to creditors, this act cannot help you out. The act prevents creditors from using abusive language and tactics to recover their money and provides power to the consumer to sue such creditors.
This law prevents creditors from calling up debtors at unearthly hours, which is any time before 8 AM or after 9 PM. The creditors may not contact the debtor at his office premises, if he has requested them to not do so. Any abusive practices, harassment through repetitive phone calls and misbehavior can be used against the debtors and they can be sued on that basis.
Reporting Harassing Phone Calls From Creditors
The FTC provides a reception center where you can report your complaints about abusive creditors. In any case of abuse and harassment, you can immediately report the matter by calling the FTC helplines - '877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) and TTY: 1-866-653-4261'. On the FTC website, you will find detailed guidelines regarding how to file a complaint. Secondly, you can contact the attorney general's office regarding creditor abuse complaints. They can offer legal help in the matter.
USA being a federal union, laws in each state differ substantially. The attorney general's office can provide you with information regarding the local laws regarding creditor induced harassment. You can find information about how to contact your attorney general at the NAAG (National Association of Attorneys General) website. You may always report the matter to local police authorities.
Thus, by contacting the attorney general's office, you may report harassing phone calls from debtors. As discussed before, you may also contact the FTC. In case of extreme abuse and unjust treatment by creditors, you can sue them in court of law and claim damages. Contact your attorney regarding the legal route you must take, in case you are planning to go ahead with suing of your abusive creditors.
Remember, that this legal mechanism can only help you in case of house debt, mortgage, credit card debt, medical bills and other household debts. In case of business debts, the 'Fair Debt Collection Practices Act' cannot protect you. There is no way out, other than paying back your debt in that case, though you may report matters to the police if the creditors are abusive. It's best not to borrow from loan sharks and plan your finances in advance, to prevent facing such a situation in the future.