What is Collection Agency Harassment?
Collection agency harassment is a very formalized and pressurized way to get people who owe money to pay it to the creditor in the fastest way as possible through various methods. Even though the approach is considered to be quite formalized in the business world, it is commonly called harassment due to the pressure imposed on debtors to pay all their debts in the most continuous way as possible where it becomes quite annoying for debtors to deal and face these issues on a daily basis.
In most scenarios, for a person to begin receiving collection agency harassment calls, it is necessary for that person to be behind for a quite significant sum of funds in which have not been paid for at least three months. When the company or business that has given the service or sold a product to the person, and has not received its payment for over three months, then this particular company or business can legally pass the responsibility of collecting the owed debt from the customer to a collection agency, which is a separate entity that carries all the duties involved in getting the funds from the customer in order to completely pay off the debt.
Companies and businesses have an incentive to pass on this level of responsibility to these debt collection agencies since they do not have to deal with the administrative process and costs that are incurred while calling and pressuring their own customers to pay up. For this reason, these businesses subcontract collection agencies in order to facilitate the process and obtain their money back, obviously collection agencies get paid on a commission negotiated with these businesses and will therefore use certain harassing approaches in order to fully get the customer to pay up and obtain their set commission.
Harassment from collection agencies varies significantly, especially when dealing with different types of industries in which the customer owes money to. However, it is very practical and conclusive to say that collection agency harassment occurs mainly on the phone through pressurized calls, rude behaviors from the operator, threats, statements that make derogatory comments about one’s own financial status and multiple strategies to force people to pay up their debt in their full amount in the fastest way as possible.
When these approaches are combined into a single package, collection agencies can then escalate to multiple calls per day to home phones, cell phones, work phones and even people showing up at your workplace to harass you about not paying your debt. While the latter is something that rarely occurs, it does happen on a statistical approach and counts toward major conclusive actions into which debtors can feel truly overwhelmed and distressed about their current financial position in terms of being debt-free and paying all their debts.
Expectations of Collection Agency Harassment
Debtors should be self-acquainted about the overall expectations of what an actual collection agency can and cannot do in terms of getting the funds in order to clear any outstanding debts. The basic expectations from any debt collector are harassing behaviors forcing you to pay any outstanding balances you have left unpaid, they do not care about your current financial circumstances, nor your financial stability, nor if you are currently employed or unemployed or whether you have sufficient solvency to pay in full amount your current debts.
The harsh truth is that debtors should not feel victimized and try to negotiate some kind of deal or feel the need to feel sorry for if they are in debt, it is important to place this level of psychological thinking at first before expecting the comprehensive or somehow humane treatment from collection agents.
Apart from expecting this level of behavior from collection agents, it is also important for debtors to fully maximize any unexpected events that may arise from any given circumstance in terms of them still owing their debts. Such events may be but are not limited to receiving unsolicited mail from collection agencies forcing individuals to pay their debts, people associated with a collection agency knocking on your door forcing you verbally and personally to pay your debts, receiving disapproval of credit requests when purchasing a big-ticket item, or even being declined a job offer due to a low credit rating.
In addition to this, most individuals know how important and vital a good credit score is in the United States for all sorts of financial necessities. Keeping up a collection agency forcing you to pay your debts for an extended period of time will inevitably allow these institutions to inform the credit bureaus about your current financial situation and will result in a diminished credit rating and consequently a lower credit score, causing even more financial struggles than simply being insolvent in order to pay debts.
Knowing how to balance these certain approaches to various debts and the ability to know for certain these unexpected circumstances when dealing with debt collection agents is an important adaptation process for debtors that must be eradicated as quickly as possible in order to solve any further damage in the long run, which the only solution is in fact to completely pay off the debt in order to avoid these circumstances.
Who Can Legally Harass Debtors?
We have been discussing how collection agency harassment exists and how it persists in our current financial system deliberately; however, not all forms of collection agency harassment are legal nor even accepted by law mainly due to the abuse in which these agents persist and turn out to be unfair discussions where code of ethics, privacy laws and other regulations have been violated in millions of cases and still continue to be.
For this reason, it is very important to know the rights of debtors and how far collection agencies can go in terms of harassing debtors over the long term. By law, collection agencies can call debtors and pressure them to politely ask them to pay off their debts continuously without any harassing; however, it is very likely that collection agencies will infuriate themselves if left ignored and will escalate the level of pressure into nasty harassment which is illegal in most state jurisdictions.
The main affected issue in this problematic scenario is the fact that several key types of actions and behaviors are considered illegal harassment and can be interpreted as non-illegal harassment by debtors. In some cases, debtors can be so sensitive, aggressive and resistant to these calls that they will call out anything as harassment and illegal which in fact in may not be illegal in its entire form.
Given this particular debate and differentiation between certain approaches into what is legal and illegal harassment by definition, it is imperative to take a close view to the laws surrounding the overall nature of collection agencies calls in order to restrain them by law in which they can and cannot do paired up with customers’ rights.
Laws Regulating Collection Agency Harassment
There are numerous state and federal laws that heavily regulate the actions and behaviors of collection agencies against their creditors, especially when it comes to harassment. The debtor has several options in which the law can be obeyed and the collection agency can stop harassment if requested with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
One of the first lawful steps is for the debtor to request a repayment plan with the creditor and negotiate a deal in which the debtor will have the option to pay the debt over a long period of time in monthly quotes. Most creditors, especially big name companies or businesses, will not mind negotiating a repayment plan given that they will usually earn an interest on it over the long term until the debt is paid in full. Other creditors will be resistant given that they need a substantial cash flow and cannot afford having a pending bill on their accountancy.
If negotiating a legal repayment plan fails for the debtor, the creditor will usually pass the debt to a collection agency and the debtor will now be required to pay the collection agency and deal with their constant pressure to pay up. Debtors have the legal right to call up on a collection agency harassment issue and write a letter to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in which requesting collection agencies to stop contacting them. Debtors can also include any illegal actions such as pervasive harassment, threats and other actions by the collection agency in this letter to maximize the level of urgency for the collection agencies to stop.
Collection Agency Cease and Desist Letter
A sample letter is written below that can be used as a format in order to send it to FDCPA for those debtors who want to stop their respective collection agencies from harassing them:
Certified Mail – Return Receipt Requested
March 20, 2014.
Account Number: 16788940 (The debtor’s collection agency account number)
Gary Lamberth (Name of the debtor)
Dear Mr. Paul Ferdinand (The name of the collection agency representative)
The purpose of this letter is to request a cease and desist action of all communication from your part with myself, my relatives and my employers, this can turn effective due to the law regulating my legal right and your obligation according to 15 U.S.C. Section 1692(c), Federal Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 805(c).
I request you to notify the receipt of this letter and to confirm the above requested actions in order to terminate collection and communication from your part in order to follow up with other types of remedies to the situation.
This present letter to cease and desist all communication from your part ought not to be interpreted as a means to access the above referenced account.
After this letter is sent, collection agencies have the legal obligation to stop contacting the debtor in order to pay up the debt, they will only be allowed to call in order to acknowledge the receipt of the letter, to confirm that their continuous follow ups have ended and they will most be likely be suing the debtor. Collection agencies will violate laws and face severe penalties if they keep calling the debtor after a letter has been filed with the FDCPA.
Current laws regulating the practices of collection agencies are outlined as followed:
- Collection agencies cannot contact the debtor’s relatives, neighbors or employers about your current debt situation, agencies will only be allowed to contact them to locate the debtor but not to mention that the debtor is in bad financial shape or in debt.
- Collection agencies cannot call late at night or at unreasonable hours.
- They are not allowed to call debtors at their workplace.
- Publish the debtor’s name in public means to harass or divulgate his or her situation.
- Insult or use derogatory language against the debtor.
- They are not allowed to call debtors and not disclose the creditor’s identity.
- Make repeated threats against the financial situation of the debtor.
Debtors have the legal right to also call out on these violations of the laws by the collection agencies and can sue each collection agency through an administrative process through a court or lawyer for damages which can incur a substantial compensation of no more than $1,000.
How to Deal with Harassing Collection Agents
There are many cases according to each type of situation in which debtors will feel inclined to deal with the harassing collection agents instead of submitting cease and desist communication letters or to stop them from harassing them. While the latter is the ideal option, it may come with some repercussions and long term incurred costs dependent upon the debt situation of each individual. It is therefore important to know how to properly deal with these collection agents in order to minimize the impact until the debt is paid off.
For those debtors who want to pay off their debt and therefore choose to deal with the collection calls at least temporarily, it will be then feasible to follow these types of recommendations in how to approach each conversation with the collection agent:
- Debtors should always maintain composure and act politely.
- It is important to not exaggerate in how annoying these calls really are.
- Always explain a valid reason which was causative in falling behind on the payment.
- Explain thoroughly the future plans to pay off the debt in its full amount.
Dealing with each collection politely is ultimately the best way for them to feel inclined to not harass the debtor, distress signals from the debtor will inevitably cause the collection agent to manifest itself and continue harassing or pressuring debtors to pay up their debts.
All these recommendations are obviously directed to those individuals and debtors who are definitely trying and will pay up their debts in their full amounts to the collection agency and thereby the creditor in question.
For those debtors who are planning to pay their debts in the future with more anticipation and do not want to deal with collection agency calls, the options to file a letter with the FDCPA as mentioned earlier will turn out to be a better decision in the long run, after all it is a matter of personal decision and preferences tied up together to each individual situation or scenario.
How to Avoid Collection Agency Harassment
It is very challenging for debtors to fully avoid collection agency harassment if they are currently on an outstanding debt with a creditor. Steps such as legal action such as filing a letter with the FDCPA is one of the best ways to fully avoid collection agency harassment which will put a stop to all the particular harassing calls and practices from collection agencies.
However, more direct-to-the-point approaches are to fully pay off all debts which will automatically cease all collection calls and harassing remarks. The main issue at this level is the fact that most debtors will not have sufficient money to pay up the debt and will inevitably start receiving more collection calls over a projected term as long as the debt is still pending.
Another approach in avoiding harassment from collection agencies is to follow up with all the recommendations mentioned earlier in the part in how to deal with harassing collection agents’ calls, this way it will be very important for debtors to follow precisely these instructions and embrace the change that they will receive when collection agency calls are received with a differentiated tone and manner as opposed to an aggressive and uptight approach.
Ultimately the most simple and effective way to avoid collection agency harassment is to simply not answer all incoming communications from them. This can be simple done by not answering the phone, recording with the caller-ID the precise phone number of the caller and whenever that calls with the same number comes in simply not answering it in the first place. Ignoring all incoming communications from a collection agency is probably the best and most effective way to simply ignore the included harassment on these calls.
The bottom with collection agency harassment is the fact that if debtors owe money, then they can expect that they will be almost completely bombarded with calls in order to pay their debts in the most direct and pervasive way. Debtors can get a mild form of relief by simply engaging in legal action against the collection agencies, which by law and practice turns out to work out very efficiently in most scenarios and cases.
However, debtors should not limit themselves to only resist collection agencies and pretend that they are debt free and do not owe any money whatsoever. It would be very easy to think that forgetting about all financial problems is the key to finding the solution but in practical terms it is not. For this reason, it is highly
encouraged to always seek a renegotiation plan with creditors before the debt goes into collection. Repayment plans are quite feasible and most creditors will be willing to negotiate something with their debtors over the long run.
There are several laws regarding and regulating the prospect of actions that are controlled in the numerous practices that collection agencies do to debtors. Some of these practices are penalized by laws and are heavily regulated in favor of debtors, which can seek compensatory sums of money if these laws are violated with sufficient evidence.
Debtors can avoid collection agency harassment by simply paying their debts and being solvent with all debts that are outstanding. However, in the majority of cases this is not possible for the majority of debtors and it is recommendable to remain free of debts in the first place and optimize the level at which purchases do not cause debts over a long term. It is also important to also be aware that debtors can simply cut off communication with collection agencies in order to avoid continuous harassment.
Bankruptcy should be avoided in terms of eradicating collection agency harassment, declaring oneself bankrupt is a very detrimental financial obstacle that comes with a hefty price over a long period of time and will subsequently cause more financial troubles over the long term. It is not recommended for people who are currently in debt to declare bankruptcy until severe financial problems halt to a crisis.
In the end, it is important to remember that collection agencies are businesses that want debtors to pay up. Using financial tools, financial planning, controlling expenses and engaging in the art of saving money is a very wise approach toward achieving financial well-being and a debt-free life over the long term. This is ultimately the solution toward avoiding collection agency calls and never having to deal with their harassment ever again.