Dealing with debt collectors is never an easy thing, but it’s especially difficult when they start calling you repeatedly. If you’re receiving multiple calls from a debt collector, it’s natural to wonder whether their behavior constitutes harassment. In this article, we’ll explore how many calls from a debt collector are considered harassment and what you can do to stop it, you can also compare these two options debt settlement vs bankruptcy.
Understanding Debt Collection Laws
Before we dive into the specifics of how many calls from a debt collector are considered harassment, it’s essential to understand the laws that govern debt collection practices.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that regulates the behavior of debt collectors. The FDCPA was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from abusive and harassing debt collection tactics.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in actions that are deemed unfair, deceptive, or abusive. Specifically, they are not allowed to:
- Call me at unreasonable times. The FDCPA defines “unreasonable” as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in your time zone.
- Contact you at work if they know or should know that your employer doesn’t allow it.
- Use obscene or profane language.
- Threaten violence or harm.
- Publish lists of people who refuse to pay their debts (this does not include reporting information to a credit reporting company).
- Call you without telling you their name.
- Misrepresent the amount you owe or the identity of the debt collector.
- Threaten legal action they don’t intend to take.
If a debt collector violates any of these rules, they may be subject to penalties and legal action.
How Many Calls from a Debt Collector is Considered Harassment?
While the FDCPA provides guidelines for what debt collectors can and cannot do, it does not specify how many calls from a debt collector are considered harassment.
In general, one or two calls from a debt collector per day are considered reasonable. However, if you’re receiving multiple calls per day or week, it could be a sign that the debt collector is engaging in harassing behavior.
There is no set number of calls that constitutes harassment, as it depends on the individual circumstances of each case. Some factors that may be considered include:
- The frequency of calls: Receiving multiple calls per day or week is a red flag that the debt collector is trying to pressure you into paying.
- The time of day: Debt collectors are not supposed to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in your time zone.
- The tone and content of the calls: Debt collectors should not use abusive or threatening language, and they should not misrepresent the amount you owe or the identity of the debt collector.
- Your personal circumstances: If you have informed the debt collector that you cannot pay the debt or have requested that they stop calling you, continued calls despite these requests could be considered harassment.
Ultimately, whether calls from a debt collector are considered harassment will depend on the specific context of your situation.
What to Do if You’re Being Harassed by a Debt Collector
If you believe that a debt collector is harassing you, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself.
First, document all of the calls and any other communications you receive from the debt collector. Keep a record of the date, time, and content of each call or message.
Next, send a written request to the debt collector asking them to stop calling you. This request should be sent by certified mail with the return receipt requested so that you have proof that it was received.
If the debt collector continues to call you after receiving your written request, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your state attorney general’s office. These agencies can investigate complaints of harassment and take legal action against debt collectors who violate the law.
Finally, if you believe that the debt collector has violated the FDCPA, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in consumer law. They can advise you on your rights and help you take legal action against the debt collector.
Dealing with debt collectors can be stressful, especially when they start calling you repeatedly. While there is no set number of calls from a debt collector that constitutes harassment, receiving multiple calls per day or week could be a sign of harassing behavior.
If you believe that a debt collector is harassing you, it’s important to document the calls, send a written request to stop calling and consider filing a complaint with the CFPB or your state attorney general’s office. An attorney who specializes in consumer law can also provide guidance and support in taking legal action against the debt collector.
How many calls from debt collectors can be considered harassment?
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), multiple calls from debt collectors within a short period, such as more than 7 calls per week, can be considered harassment.
Are debt collectors allowed to call me at work?
Debt collectors are generally prohibited from contacting you at your workplace if they have reason to believe that such calls are not allowed by your employer.
Can debt collectors call me outside of regular business hours?
Debt collectors should avoid contacting you outside of the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., unless you have given them permission to do so.
How can I stop debt collectors from contacting me?
You have the right to request that debt collectors stop contacting you by sending a “cease and desist” letter, which should be sent via certified mail with a return receipt request.
Can debt collectors leave messages on my voicemail?
Debt collectors are allowed to leave messages on your voicemail, but they must not disclose details about your debt to anyone other than you.
Can debt collectors contact my friends or family regarding my debt?
Debt collectors are generally not allowed to disclose your debt to third parties, except to obtain your contact information. They can only contact friends or family once, in order to locate you.
Can debt collectors contact me through social media?
Debt collectors are generally not allowed to contact you through social media platforms, as it can be seen as a violation of your privacy rights.
Can debt collectors contact me after I’ve hired an attorney?
Once you have retained an attorney to represent you regarding your debt, debt collectors should contact your attorney instead of contacting you directly.
What can I do if I believe a debt collector is harassing me?
You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your state’s Attorney General’s office. You may also consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in consumer protection laws.
Are there any penalties for debt collectors who engage in harassment?
Yes, if debt collectors are found to be engaging in harassment or violating the FDCPA, you may be entitled to sue them in court and receive damages, including statutory damages up to $1,000, plus any actual damages you have suffered.
- Debt Collector: A company or individual hired to recover unpaid debts on behalf of creditors.
- Harassment: Unwanted or persistent behavior designed to annoy, intimidate, or trouble someone.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): A federal law that protects consumers from abusive debt collection practices and sets guidelines for debt collectors.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): A government agency responsible for enforcing consumer financial laws, including the FDCPA.
- Creditor: A person or organization to whom money is owed.
- Unfair Practices: Actions taken by debt collectors that violate the FDCPA, such as threats, intimidation, or misrepresentation.
- Robocalls: Automated phone calls made by debt collectors using pre-recorded messages.
- Cease and Desist Letter: A written request to a debt collector, asking them to stop contacting the debtor.
- Statute of Limitations: The time period during which a creditor can legally sue a debtor for an unpaid debt.
- Validation of Debt: The process of requesting proof from a debt collector that the debt is legitimate and accurate.
- Written Communication: Any correspondence from a debt collector that is sent via mail or email.
- Oral Communication: Any conversation or phone call between a debtor and a debt collector.
- Personal Information: Sensitive data, such as Social Security number, bank account details, or home address, that debt collectors may request.
- Debt Verification: The process of confirming that a debt belongs to the debtor and the amount owed is accurate.
- Revival of Debt: The act of resetting the statute of limitations on debt, often through a partial payment or written acknowledgment.
- Harassment Log: A record kept by the debtor to document all communication from debt collectors, including dates, times, and contents of conversations.
- Debt Settlement: A negotiation process between a debtor and a creditor to reach an agreement on a reduced payment amount.
- Credit Score: A numerical assessment of an individual’s creditworthiness, which can be negatively affected by unpaid debts.
- Garnishment: A legal process in which a creditor can collect payment directly from a debtor’s wages, bank accounts, or other assets.
- Bankruptcy: A legal status that allows individuals or businesses to seek relief from their debts by liquidating assets or creating a repayment plan.