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How Can Creditors Avoid Claims of Harassment When Collecting Debts?

Posted on in Debt Collection

IL debt attorneyAs a creditor, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding debt collection in order to avoid any potential claims of harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from debt collectors who engage in abusive or unfair practices. These provisions apply to any person or entity that collects debts, including creditors and collection agencies. By understanding the applicable laws and taking steps to protect creditors' rights, a company that is seeking to collect debts can avoid actions that could potentially result in penalties.

What Constitutes Creditor Harassment?

There are many different types of behavior that could be considered harassment when collecting debts. These include:

  • Making repeated phone calls to a debtor in a manner that could be considered annoying or abusive
  • Using obscene or threatening language during phone calls or other communication or correspondence
  • Making public accusations or posting private information about the debtor in a location where it may be visible to the public, including information about a person's debts that is printed on postcards or the outside of envelopes
  • Publishing lists of debtors who are delinquent in their payments
  • Contacting a debtor's friends, family, or employer in an attempt to collect the debt
  • Sending unwanted correspondence, such as text messages, emails, or letters, after a debtor has asked for communication to cease
  • Calling a debtor outside of reasonable hours (generally before 8 am or after 9 pm)
  • Contacting a debtor without identifying oneself as a creditor or debt collector

How to Avoid Harassment Claims

To ensure that they are following the provisions of the FDCPA, creditors can do the following:

  • Keep records of all attempts to contact a debtor. This may include copies of all communications with the consumer (e.g., phone calls, letters, emails), as well as any payment history related to the debt. Follow up in writing after each conversation to ensure that both parties understand what was discussed.
  • Send validation notices when requested. These notices give consumers an opportunity to verify that they actually owe the debt before collection efforts begin. This can save time and prevent potential disputes down the road.
  • Avoid harassing behavior. Always be polite and professional when communicating with debtors, respect reasonable hours, and do not make threats or claim that a person may face criminal charges or legal action. It is often best to limit contact to once per week, and creditors should not attempt to contact a person's employer, family, or friends. Creditors should also avoid any attempts to publicly shame a debtor for their failure to make payments.
  • Use a third-party debt collector if needed. Debt collection agencies can make sure the proper procedures are followed when contacting debtors. In some cases, legal assistance from an attorney may be necessary to ensure that creditors can protect their rights and recover what is owed.

Contact Our Cook County Creditors' Rights Lawyers

If you have any questions about how to avoid harassment claims when collecting debts, please contact Walinski & Associates, P.C. for assistance. Our Chicago debt collection attorneys would be happy to review your specific case and provide guidance on how you can protect your rights and collect debts that are owed. Call our office at 312-704-0771 to learn more about the legal services we provide to creditors.

Sources:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-harassment-by-a-debt-collector-en-336/

https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/rules/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text#806

https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs

Illinois Creditors Bar Association Chicago Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association
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