In the 1980s and 1990s, debt collectors were in the habit of abusing and harassing debtors; the mistreatment was rampant. This abuse included calls at all hours of the day and night, threats of violence, profane language, threats to embarrass the debtor by making their debts public knowledge, etc.
All of these upsetting behaviors fall under the category of “debt collector harassment” and they are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). However, even though most debt collectors have cleaned up their act in the last 20 or so years, debt collector harassment and abuse still exists.
‘No Harassment’ Allowed Under the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not allowed to abuse, harass, or annoy the debtors they reach out to. If they do, they can face legal consequences.
Here are some examples of debt collector harassment:
- The debt collector calls the debtor repeatedly.
- The debt collector uses profane language.
- The debt collector threatens violence against the debtor.
- The debt collector threatens to harm the debtor.
- The debt collector calls but doesn’t tell the debtor who they are.
Suing Under the FDCPA
Victims of debt collectors abuse can sue debt collectors when they’ve violated the FDCPA. If a debtor files a lawsuit under the FDCPA and he or she wins, the debt collector usually has to pay the debtor’s attorney fees and they may also be ordered to pay the debtor damages.
Not only are debt collectors barred from harassing debtors, they’re also prohibited from using false, deceptive, or misleading practices. For example, they can’t lie about the amount of debt owed. They can’t claim to be an attorney if they are not one, they can’t falsely threaten to arrest the debtor, they can’t threaten to do things that they can’t legally do, and they can’t make threats to do something they have no intention of doing.