What is debt collection harassment?
Sounds like an easy question, right? But there has been a lot of litigation over what exactly is considered “harassment” or “abuse” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Here are some debt collection tactics that are definitely considered harassment and abuse under the FDCPA:
- Debt collectors cannot use violence to collect a debt. They can’t even threaten it. This prohibition also covers threats against your children, friends, and other third parties.
- Bill collectors can’t use profane or abusive language. Obviously different people have different definitions of “profane or abusive”. But at least one court has ruled that name calling and racial or ethnic slurs are profane and abusive.
- Collectors can’t call you repeatedly. This not only applies to actual telephone conversations, but also to causing the phone to ring. For example, redialing your number after you’ve hung up the phone.
- Debt collectors must tell you who is calling. Fairly self-explanatory. But there is some debate about whether collectors can use a consistent alias. Not surprisingly, many collectors would rather not use their real name when on the job. So some courts have allowed the use of aliases.
- Any other debt collection conduct where the “natural consequence” is to harass, oppress, or abuse. This is the catch-all provision. Again, it can be tough to define what conduct has the natural consequence to harass, oppress, or abuse, but courts have found the following conduct to be violations of this section: (1) threats to contact third parties; (2) telephone messages left with neighbors when the collector could have reached the consumer directly; (3) use of words like “liar”, “deadbeat”, and “crook”.
If you live in Minnesota and have been subjected to these, or similar, abusive debt collection tactics, feel free to contact me for a free case evaluation.