Creditor harassment in New York
With recent projections putting consumer debt in the U.S. well over two trillion dollars, it is no surprise that many Americans struggle paying off debt. Those who struggle to make payments may begin to receive phone calls from creditors or debt collection agencies in attempts to receive payment.
Although calls and other attempts to contact people to receive payment are allowed, some creditors and agencies cross the line, violating the law and using methods that qualify as illegal creditor harassment.
Types of creditor harassment
Federal and New York state laws offer consumers protection against creditor harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is the primary tool used against those who harass consumers.
Under this law, debt collectors are prohibited from using “abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect” from consumers. This law extends to cover not only the creditor, but also collection agencies and anyone the collector may hire to collect payment.
The FDCPA applies to various types of debt, including car loans, credit card bills and mortgages. Under this law, it is illegal for creditors and collection agencies to do the following:
- Contact a consumer between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- Discuss the debt with a third party
- Use threats of violence or obscene language
- Threaten to arrest a consumer for not paying off a debt
Creditors are also required to stop making contact when a consumer states, in writing, that he or she wants to receive verification of the debt or does not owe the debt in question. Creditors or agencies that continue to make contact after receiving this type of notification are in violation of the FDCPA.
Those who request a creditor stop making contact in a letter should make a copy of the letter, send it via certified mail and pay for a “return receipt” to document the creditor received the letter.
Tips on putting an end to creditor harassment in New York
Even when these steps are taken, harassment may still occur. Those who are the victim of creditor harassment in New York should report the problem to the New York Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the Better Business Bureau in the county where you reside.
Consumers have the ability to file a lawsuit against a creditor or agency in violation of the FDCPA. This lawsuit can result in payment of lost wages and medical bills connected to the illegal collection practices. Even if no actual damages are incurred, a judge can order the creditor to pay up to $1,000 and cover the amount paid for attorney fees and court costs.
Remedies are available to stop creditor harassment, but there are time limits connected to filing this type of lawsuit. If you are a victim, an attorney experienced in litigating creditor harassment complaints can assist you. It is also possible that if these calls are resulting from delinquent credit card debt, experienced bankruptcy counsel may offer a bankruptcy option to eliminate debt and stop harassing calls.