As American consumers continue to hurt financially from the slow economy, desperate debt collectors are getting and many are stepping outside the law to harass well-meaning citizens who have simply fallen on hard times. While harassing phone calls are old hat for debt collectors, many have stepped up the pressure by using abusive language and threatening physical violence against those who owe. And that’s illegal.
Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about harassment by debt collectors skyrocketed by 50% in 2009, and are expected to rise another 13% in 2010. The number one trick collectors use is to bombard debtors with an unending barrage of back-to-back phone calls over a period of weeks or even months. Using obscene or abusive language is the second biggest complaint.
Perhaps the most disturbing complaint of all is that some collectors threaten to – or actually do – come to the debtor’s home and commit violence. Other dirty tricks include calling outside of allowed hours (8am – 9pm), asking for more money than is actually owed, telling a third party about the collection attempts, calling the debtor at work, and threatening jail time and property seizure.
All of these practices are illegal under the FTC’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which has been in effect since 1977. Affected consumers can sue their harasser in state or federal court, and can win damages, fines and court fees if they win their case.
If a debtor decides to declare bankruptcy, debt collectors are required by law to stop attempting to collect the debt as soon as they are notified of the bankruptcy filing. The debtor himself can notify the collector simply by giving him the docket number of the bankruptcy case.
At The Pew Law Center, PLLC, we believe that your life shouldn’t be defined by debt. We have helped hundreds of people just like you find the relief they deserve from harassing bill collectors, paycheck garnishment, foreclosures proceedings, and – most importantly – the constant worry about money and what to do about your debts.
We are a dedicated debt relief law firm. We help people from Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Chandler, Scottsdale, Apache Junction, Tempe and throughout Arizona file for bankruptcy or work through tough tax problems every day. We can help stop the debt cycle and give you relief from your overwhelming, burdensome, and crushing debt. Please don’t wait another moment. Call us right away – our attorneys will help get you the fresh start you deserve.