Your telephone rings and you look down at it.
It’s the same number that has called you at least three times today.
You don’t have the money available to pay off your debt, so what can you do to keep them from calling? They’ve already called you at least 20 times in the past few days.
How many calls from a debt collector is considered harassment?
You’re not alone. The average American is $38,000 in debt. But still, it feels extremely isolating and scary when you’re being called so often.
What legal recourse do you have to this issue?
Read on for more information.
Debt Collection and Harassment
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), they’re not allowed to abuse the people whom they are collecting debt from. But what does that mean and what constitutes harassment?
That’s difficult to classify on a personal level, as each person may interpret harassment differently. For one person, several calls a day may not seem like it is overkill, though, for most, it is intimidating and bothersome.
Most people in debt know they’re in debt, so calling repeatedly won’t make their money magically appear.
How do you quantify harassment? It’s difficult, but there are some things that nearly everyone can agree on.
Examples of Harassment
There are a few examples of harassment that you may have experienced:
- Being called several times a day, up to 10 or even 20 times
- Being called repeatedly from different numbers
- What appears to be robocalling, in that they’re using a computer to contact you
- Publishing your name and stating that you have debt with them
- Cursing and yelling at you on the phone
- Threatening you with violence or harm
Other things they may not do, that may also constitute harassment include:
- Lying or exaggerating about what they can do to you legally, i.e. threatening to garnish wages, arrest you or other empty but intimidating legal threats
- Stating that they’re a lawyer if they aren’t (some debt can be sold off to debt collecting lawyers, and in that case, they are representing a lawyer)
- Saying you owe more than you do
So, what legal recourse do you have when the calls become too much?
Legalities and Debt Collectors: How Much Is Too Much?
Unfortunately, there is no national set amount of times a debt collector can call you that is considered harassment. They can’t call you three times a day, and a fourth is considered harassment.
However, many states attempt to protect their citizens by having laws similar to the FDCPA. You may wish to speak to someone in this position if a debt collector is calling you more times than you think is appropriate, and they may be able to handle it.
Furthermore, debt collectors are not allowed to call you at times that are deemed bothersome. This is a very thin line, however, as what is considered bothersome may be different for everyone. A person who works nights might think getting a call at 2pm bothersome, while someone who works a 9 to 5 job would find a call at 11pm to be unacceptable. These are all things you can bring up if you contact your state’s form of the FDCPA.
Your Legal Recourse
If you feel a debt collector is calling you too much, you are legally able to tell them to stop. Typically, to make it fully legal, you’ll need to notify them in writing. Keep a copy of this notice in case you need to pursue the case further, as you can them prove that you attempted to cease the calls.
After this, the debt collector must stop contacting you. But, they may write to you and notify you that they will be suing you for the rest of the debt. This is perfectly legal to do so and within their rights. If you are unable to pay the debt or to figure out a solution with the debt collectors, you may have to face debtors court where you will be ordered to pay the money during a court hearing.
If you feel the calls are intimidating or are exaggerating what you owe, you may be able to get help via a lawyer. They can work with you to both help you pay off your debt, and to deal with anything illegal that the debt collector has done to get their money, including harassment.
What You Can Do
Having debt is stressful, and it is especially so when the debt collectors continue to call you and bother you.
It is important to remember that you do have rights, even if it feels as though you don’t at the moment.
Always remember to log phone calls. Take screenshots or get phone records if possible. These may be useful in the future.
Remember, you don’t have to talk to anyone you don’t want to. You can hang up on the debt collector. You are in control.
Additionally, do not let anyone else in your household talk to the debt collector if the debt is in your name.
How Many Calls from a Debt Collector is Considered Harassment?
How many calls from a debt collector is considered harassment? Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer. Though, we do know that anything that seems unreasonable probably is. While you may be anxious and concerned, remember, you have rights.
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