Debt Collection Harassment

If you are in debt you likely already know it; harassing calls and threats from debt collectors do nothing to alleviate an already stressful experience. Consumers can find themselves bearing the harassment of an abusive debt collector, whether they owe the debt or not!  Debt collectors regularly abuse consumers in order to unfairly pressure them into paying debts, even if the debt is long past the point of being legally collectible or even if the debt collector is contacting the wrong person.  Using unfair and illegal tactics to coerce payments, such as threats of violence, legal action, garnishment of wages, seizure of property, or arrest, some debt collectors will stop at nothing to collect a debt, in violation of federal law.  Another tactic used is to artificially increase the amount of the legitimately owed debt, such as added interest or fees that can make repayment a crippling if not impossible prospect.

The bottom line is, if a debt collector is attempting to collect a legitimately owed debt, they have to follow the law, and cannot do anything that is dishonest, abusive, or unfair to coerce payment.

Debtors Have Rights

Although you may legally owe a debt, both state law and the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you against harassment and unfair and deceptive practices by creditors to collect that debt. The law clearly specifies what can and can’t be done in connection with debt collection:

  • Debt collectors must identify themselves
  • Debt collectors can not lie or make false claims
  • Debt collectors may not contact other people about the debt, other than your spouse or attorney
  • Debt collectors may not harass or abuse the client or his/her family
  • Debt collectors may contact debtors only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Debt collectors may not contact debtors at work if requested to abstain
  • Debt collectors must cease contact with the debtor if requested to do so

Debt Collectors must give you notice of your rights within five days of the first communication (phone call or letter) with you.  These rights include:

The right to demand that a debt collector cease communication. Once you write a letter demanding a debt collector cease communication with you, they must do so.  If the letter also indicates that you refuse to pay the alleged debt for any reason, this is sufficient to constitute a cease communication notice.  Whatever the content of the letter, the debt collector can only communicate with you to inform you that it is exercising specific rights that it has.

The right to demand that the debt collector prove you owe the alleged debt, also called “validation”. Debt collectors must tell you about this important right.  If you request that they validate the debt in writing within 30 days of receiving your notice of rights, the debt collector must validate the debt or stop collection actions.

An Attorney Can Protect You

If you hire a lawyer to represent you, creditors and debt collectors are not allowed to contact you directly. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and to protect you from unscrupulous collectors who may be disregarding the law.  In certain situations, you may have the right to sue the debt collector in state or federal court within one year from the date the debt collector violated the law.  If you win, you can recover any actual damages that you suffered, plus an additional amount of up to $1,000, plus court costs and attorney fees. You may also have a claim under state law if the debt collector’s actions have caused you severe emotional stress.

No Attorney Fees to You

If you can’t afford to hire an attorney, don’t worry. Federal law says that if you prove the debt collector violated your rights, the debt collector may have to pay for your attorney’s fees and court costs in addition to your damages.  Because of this, in many cases we are able to handle your claim on a contingent fee basis so that you do not pay attorney’s fees “up front”. We usually will accept as full payment whatever a court awards us for our fees, which are not related to the amount you recover.

Help Us Help You

Before or shortly after you contact us, you should get all of the information you have about the debt, including any past account statements, letters, or other documents.  Start putting together a ‘collection log’ that keeps track of important events, such as letters received, phone calls from the debt collector, and names and statements about what was said or done.  Make sure to keep track of the date, time, representative name, and content of the call for any debt collection calls that come in.  Send for copies of your credit reports from the “Big Three” reporting agencies, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax.  These have important information about your credit history, the account being collected on, and who may have had the same account at an earlier time.  You may even find that there are other reporting errors that you did not know about.

Witness statements can also be extremely important if any family members, employers, co-workers, or friends have been contacted by a debt collector who is attempting to find you, or who have witnessed calls or communications made by debt collectors.

Do Not Put Up With It Any Longer

If a debt collector uses abusive, harassing, or threatening behavior to coerce you to pay a debt, or is trying to get you to pay a debt that is too old or is not yours, take action by contacting Norris Law Firm, PLLC.  We know the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the North Carolina State Debt Collection Practices Act, and can use them to help stop illegal debt collecti0n, providing you with a respite from the stress, a cash settlement, and perhaps even elimination of the underlying debt.

At Norris Law Firm, PLLC, we work every day to protect North Carolina consumers.  Victims of such abuse need dedicated and experienced counsel who are ready, willing, and able to take your case to trial if needed to get you the relief to which you are entitled.  We may be able to protect you from overly aggressive and abusive debt collectors, and protect your legal rights.  Contact us today for a free initial telephone consultation.

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Office Location

1033 Bullard Court, Suite 207
Raleigh, NC 27615
Phone:  (919) 981-447
Fax:  (919) 926-1676
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