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Your Rights Against Debt Collection Harassment & Abuse

Know Your Rights Against Illegal Debt Collection Activities

Just because you owe debt does not mean debt collectors are permitted to harass you. You are entitled to be treated fairly and respectfully. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law meant to protect consumers from harassing, deceptive, and unfair debt collection agencies.  Knowing your rights is important to protect yourself from abuse.  A New York debt collector abuse attorney can provide you with additional information on what legal steps can be taken to protect yourself and your family.

What Are Debt Collectors Not Allowed to Do?

A. Harassment. A debt collector may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person in any way in connection with the collection of any debt.  Common examples of harassing behavior include:

  • Disclosing to someone else that the consumer owes a debt (e.g. calling your relatives, neighbors, or co-workers);
  • Continuously calling on the telephone in order to annoy, or harass;
  • Falsely threatening the consumer with a lawsuit;
  • Telephoning  the consumer at work while knowing the consumer cannot receive such calls;
  • Contacting the consumer when it is known you are represented by an attorney;
  • Threatening to have the consumer arrested;
  • Using abusive or profane language;
  • Contacting consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in your time zone;
  • Continuing to communicate with a consumer after the consumer has requested in writing for the collect to stop.

It is important to note that debt collectors are not permitted to harrass you in any manner.  The above list is just some common examples.

B. Deceptive conduct. A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of a debt. Some common examples of deceptive conduct include:

  • Falsely threatening consumers with a lawsuit, unless the law permits them to sue and they actually plan on suing the consumer;
  • Falsely threatening to seize, garnish, attach, or sell a consumer's property or wages;
  • Misrepresenting the amount of the consumer's debt;
  • Falsely implying that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • Falsely implying that a consumer has committed a crime, or is going to arrested;
  • Falsely representing that they operate or work for a credit bureau (credit bureaus are the companies that put together your credit reports);
  • Reporting false credit information about a consumer to anyone, including to a credit bureau.

It is important to note that debt collectors are not permitted to make any false, deceptive, or misleading statements to a consumer. They cannot mislead consumers in any manner. The above list is just some common examples.

C. Unfair practices. A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Common examples of an unfair practice include:

  • Suing or threatening to sue the consumer in a distance place; 
  • Threatening to take a consumer's property unless the debt collector is legally allowed to do so;
  • Suing or threatening to sue past the statute of limitations (Note: the statute of limitations in New York is a maximum of six years for most debts. The statute of limitations could be less than the six years however depending on certain factors);
  • Suing or threatening to sue a person over a debt that the person does not owe; 
  • Collecting or trying to collect any amount greater than the alleged debt.

It is important to note that debt collectors are not permitted to engage in any unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt. The above list is just some common examples.

Know your rights. Contact a New York debt collection harassment lawyer to find out more about what you can do stop abusive debt collection.

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If you have legal problem or issue you should always consult with a qualified lawyer experienced in the appropriate area of law. We would be glad to discuss your specific situation with you, should you so desire, by phone at (631) 669-0921.