Earlier in the month of April, David and Robyn Treece filed a complaint against Merchants Credit LLC alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.
According to online reports, the couple has been getting calls constantly for a debt they had raised to cover their daughter’s medical requirements. However, according to the complainant, they have been hounded by the collection agency over repaying the loan; receiving calls consistently.
While the case remains in court right now, it is a good way to recall the guidelines of the FDCPA, one of which says that constantly calling consumers over debt collection is illegal.
What is debt harassment ?
Collecting overdue debt or loan is not an illegal activity. But when the collection practices start creating stress and trauma, they can be termed as harassment.
The FDCPA, in particular, regulates collection practices of third parties. This means if you or someone you know is facing any of the following behavior from a third party, you can sue them for harassment related to debt collection. If violations are proven, consumers can win monetary compensation as well.
What does the law say? Here are some guidelines to help you understand:
- Making incessant calls for the purpose of debt collection can cause stress and trauma and is therefore prohibited.
- Calling a consumer without first verifying whether she or he indeed owes the debt is illegal due to the serious trauma it can cause to someone who doesn’t actually own the debt.
- Making threats, particularly threatening lawsuits when there isn’t scope for one, is also illegal.
- Pressuring consumers to sell off property or other assets to pay off an outstanding debt is illegal and causes trauma and harassment.
- Debt collection agents must identify themselves when they call, including the entity on whose behalf the debt is being collected. Failure to do so is illegal.
- Debt collectors cannot communicate details of the debt to anybody other than the consumer. None of the communication can have visible signs of it being related to an unpaid debt.
Some examples of harassment by the Merchants Credit LLC Bank
“…Then this am my husband receives a call at work that we still owe $35.00 dollars, they couldn’t have sent a letter telling us that and what it was for, they had to bother him at work….”
“…They’ll use scare tactics, threats, cattle prods, belligerent rudeness, relentless phone calls at all hours–anything goes…”
As per another online report, the bank is also alleged to have engaged in harassing behavior, indulging in false and deceptive means to collect a debt. A complaint has also been filed in this regard. The bank has also been charged with violating another law, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act by executing an electronic bank fund transfer without written permission from the account holder.
What can consumers do?
- Write to the collection agency to stop the harassment .
- Keep proof of the communication, copies of written letters, etc.
- Keep telephone bill records to ensure proof of calls by debt agencies.
- Make recordings of calls by debt agencies to use as proof.
There is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that deals specifically with debt collection related harassment over the telephone. Monetary compensation is awarded in this case as well, if violations are proved.
Also, make an appointment with an attorney dealing with debt harassment cases. Lawyers can help you put together a strong case and one where you can stop the harassment as well as win compensation for the damages. Does your case fall under the FDCPA or will it need the backing of the TCPA? A lawyer can help answer these questions better through their understanding and experience.
Legal Rights Advocates, PLLC is a law firm that helps clients who are facing harassment from debt collectors in any form, including over the telephone. Our team of debt harassment lawyers , over the years, has helped countless clients get protections from debt collection practices that are deemed as unlawful and illegal under the FDCPA and TCPA laws.
If you are interested in learning more about how to safeguard yourself better from debt related harassment, call us at (855) 254-7841 for immediate assistance.