“I’m Being Harassed By A Debt Collector! How Can I Make Them Stop?”
Yes, you can Sue Debt Collectors – and Win!
Once Debt Collectors Start Calling, They Are Relentless. Here’s how to Stop Debt Collectors and Illegal Debt Collection Practices.
You don’t need to get more than a few days late on your credit card payment before the debt collector begins to call. And, once the calls begin, you can expect to receive 5, 6, 7 – up to ten or more calls each day – from each debt collector. Debt collection defense attorney Eric Ridley explains:
Clients tell me stories of what happens once they answer the phone. During these Harassment Calls From Bill Collectors, Collectors will:
- Threaten to arrest you
- Tell you the Sheriff is on the way to your door
- Tell you they are about to take everything from your bank account
- Call you at work, over and over again
- Call your neighbors
- Call your parents
And much, much more.
What Do These Tactics Have In Common?
Depending on the circumstances, each of the collection strategies above are illegal. You can sue the debt collector and receive your attorney fees, plus monetary damages, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and in California, under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Evidence Of Debt Collector Harassment Is Important
You need to keep records of what the debt collectors say. In California you cannot record the conversations without the other party’s knowledge. But, you can save the abusive voicemails they leave.
You should also keep a notebook next to your phone, and list days, dates, names and notes of what happened during the conversations.
With this evidence, good credit defense attorneys (ahem) can turn the tables on the wolves, recover some money for you, and often win other concessions from your adversary.
I Sue Debt Collectors!
Time Limit To Sue Debt Collectors For Harassment Under the FDCPA
There’s an extremely firm time limit on how long you have to sue for violations of the FDCPA; your suit for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act must be brought within one year of the day that the debt collector violated the law.
This is NOT a flexible time limit.
If you miss the deadline, you blow your chance to recover from the predators who have been upsetting you.
For phone calls and messages, the time to sue begins on the day that the call is made. For letters, the time to sue begins when the letter is sent – not when it’s received, as you might think.
The general rule is that a court won’t extend the time to sue debt collectors for harassment “by even a single day.” Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Inc., 209 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir.2000).
There is an exception to the rule when a defendant fraudulently conceals their wrongdoing and prevent a plaintiff from filing suit during the limitations period. In those circumstances, the right to be free of stale claims is trumped by the unfairness of the defendant’s conduct. Holmberg v. Armbrecht, 327 U.S. 392, 396, 66 S.Ct. 582, 90 L.Ed. 743 (1946).
When You Sue Debt Collectors, Time Is Of The Essence, Even If You’re Not Aware of It.
You know that the collection agencies are harassing and threatening you, but you don’t know if the calls, threats and harassment are enough to be illegal. However, I know – and so does any good debt collection defense attorney.
You have several options in terms of getting out of debt, so you should talk with a lawyer (call me right away) about what those options are.
But beyond that, you should get to an attorney like me who knows about the debt collection laws and can help decide whether the actions cross the line into illegality.
After all, if you don’t fight back in the time specified by law then the debt collection agency gets away with it. And if they do, chances are good that they’ll do it again to someone else.