In recent years, job losses and the mounting debt that follows have made it more difficult for some people to keep current on their bills. Unfortunately, when people go into debt, they must often face phone calls and other contact from their creditors, often making a bad situation much worse.
When debt collector behavior has crossed the line into harassment, you may think that you have no options, but in fact, there are several options to stop creditor harassment.
First, it is illegal for debt collectors to harass you with excessive phone calls or to use profanity or offensive language when contacting you about a debt. This type of conduct violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law designed to protect you from unfair or offensive debt collection tactics. If a debt collector engages in this type of behavior, you have the right to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You also have the option to contact an attorney, as you may be entitled to recover damages for the debt collector's violation of the FDCPA.
Secondly, you have the right to ask debt collectors to stop contacting you about the debt. Under the FDCPA, you can request a debt collector to stop calling you or to communicate with you only in writing. Keep in mind that this will not stop the creditors from filing a lawsuit to collect the debt. Once you have requested debt collectors to stop calling you, they can only contact you to inform you of a specific action, such as a lawsuit, that the creditor intends to take.
Lastly, you have the option of filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy temporarily stops debt collectors' attempts to collect on debts, including stopping all debt collection lawsuits. Bankruptcy gives you time to restructure your debt (through Chapter 13 bankruptcy), and in some cases, relieves your obligation to pay certain debts (through Chapter 7 bankruptcy).
If you are facing creditor harassment or are considering bankruptcy, it is important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney. An experienced attorney can stop the phone calls, help you explore your debt relief options and recommend a solution based on your circumstances.