Harassment in any form is a terrifying experience. Oftentimes, it leaves people uneasy and fearful of how they can move on from their harassers. It’s particularly challenging when you are receiving harassment due to your debt.
Many people who experience debt also experience creditor harassment, where bill collectors call your home, your work and threaten legal action over your unpaid debt. Some collectors may go as far as to contact family members or friends in hopes of getting money from you.
How is this legal?
While the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that collectors can’t harass or oppress people, the act only outlines very specific examples of what harassment is, such as:
- Repetitious phone calls that annoy or harras the person answering the phone
- Obscene language
- Threats of violence or harm
- Calling you and not disclosing who they are
- Using deceptive practices like lying about the amount owed or that they are an attorney
All these are illegal under the act, so you should be able to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about any of these violations.
However, it is in the creditor’s right to demand payments and even threatening to sue a consumer in court. Although a lawsuit is the last resort for many creditors. Most people will not know that and feel overwhelmed by the possibility of a lawsuit over debt.
A possible solution
So many people suffer from creditor harassment and feel trapped by their debt. Luckily, one solution to end harassment is filing for bankruptcy. In most cases, filing for bankruptcy triggers an ‘automatic stay,’ where collectors, creditors and officials must cease collection activity.
You should file for bankruptcy if you feel like it’s the only option. It’s particularly helpful if you fear other aspects of debt such as foreclosure, repossession, etc. If you want to explore the bankruptcy option, work with a support system to research your options and choose what’s best for your finances.