We have posted on our blog about some of the ways that creditors, and even individuals seeking to pose as creditors, have attempted to intimidate or otherwise unfairly communicate with individuals in connection with debt collections.
However, there are strict laws in place that dictate what practices are allowed and prohibited in the practice of seeking to collect debt. Ohio residents should know that these laws protect them against unfair debt collection practices.
The primary vehicle for protecting you from unfair debt collection practices is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is a federal law directed specifically at debt collectors who are hired by creditors to attempt to secure payments; it does not apply if the creditor itself is engaging in collection activities.
The FDCPA imposes on debt collectors a number of procedural requirements to follow whenever they attempt to communicate with you. These requirements include: providing information identifying themselves and the creditor they are serving, and giving you the ability to dispute or verify the debt in question.
The FDCPA also contains several specific prohibitions against debt collectors, which are intended to prevent them from engaging in obnoxious behaviors, for example, calling you repeatedly or at unreasonable hours, verbally abusing you, or engaging in dishonest activities such as holding themselves out to be attorneys when they are not.
The list of prohibited activities is lengthy; the summary in the paragraph above mentions only a few of them.
One useful feature of the FDCPA is that it does not require you to prove any actual harm or damages to be effective against abusive debt collectors. As long as you can demonstrate that the debt collector violated the law, it can be fined.
If you can show actual damages -- such as having to change your phone number to stop harassing calls -- you can recover any amount you had to spend to do that, too. Attorney fees that you may have incurred are also collectible.
Creditor harassment can make a situation that is already stressful even worse for people struggling with debt. Working with an attorney to tackle creditor harassment and debt relief can be a great source of comfort and relief during such a stressful time.