A collection agency, also referred to as a debt collection agency, is a third party recovery unit, employed by financial institutions with the sole aim to recover their money from the debtors. A collection agency hires individuals, often referred to as debt collectors, to remind or persuade the debtors to fulfill their obligations.
At times, the methods used are outright annoying or even harassing. In such cases, most debtors suffer this unnecessary harassment. What we, as consumers, fail to understand is that we don't have to undergo this harassment, as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a law constituted to ensure fair debt collection, has provisions to stop it.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
It is the most formidable legal weapon you can use to stop collection agency harassment. The Act is intended to wipe out unethical or abusive practices of consumer debt collection and promote fair debt collection practices.
It covers important points which state that upon receiving a written notice from the consumer, stating that he/she will not pay the debt and at the same time, does not wish to communicate with the agency any more, the collection agency should cease trying to communicate with the said consumer by any means other than legal proceedings.
The Act also states that the collection agency shouldn't call the consumer frequently with the intention of annoying or harassing him, and should cease communicating with the consumer at his/her workplace after being advised that it is prohibited.
What Amounts to Harassment?
Harassment can be mental (calling during odd hours) or physical (using violence). Even threatening by offensive language, claiming to be law enforcement officers, confronting the consumer at odd hours, at odd place, causes harassment. Consumers should know legal issues and acts protecting their rights to stop being harassed by the collection agency.
How to Stop Such Harassment?
The foremost thing you will have to do is, send a cease and desist notice to the collection agency. According to the federal law, once the collection agency receives the notice on your behalf, clearly stating that they shouldn't contact you, they can't communicate with you by any other means except for legal proceedings.
It is advisable to send a notarized letter, using a certified mail service. Make sure that the basic details, like your name, phone number, etc., are properly covered in the letter. If the collection agency persists to harass you with unnecessary calls or confrontation, you can go ahead and file a lawsuit against them.
What About Collection Agency Calls?
In this case, you can send them a cease and desist letter stating that they must stop calling you, and instead, can communicate through mails or legal proceedings. If you still continue to get calls after this, you are recommended to record your conversation with the collection agent.
This recorded conversation will act as an evidence of the collection agency violating the law. Politely request the collection agent to stop calling you. Mention about the cease and desist letter you sent to the agency. If required mention the relevant points from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
This will send across a strong message about your seriousness in dealing with harassment that you are experiencing.
You need to understand that these are ways to deal with collection agencies, not to avoid the debt you owe to them. While they stop annoying you to repay the debt, you can try to come up with a debt settlement agreement with them. Being aware of the various legalities related to the issue can help you keep harassment at bay and stay out of trouble.