Recent unprecedented events have led to some tough economic times for families in Alabama and across the country. Many are struggling to make ends meet. Situations like this often result in maxed out credit cards, overextended loans and delinquent payments. Then a consumer may begin to get those dreaded calls from debt collectors. While many debt collectors are simply doing their jobs, others step over the line, violating consumers’ rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
A creditor or debt collector has the right to try to collect what a consumer owes. However, certain actions are unlawful and may constitute harassment, including these and others:
- Calling between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., or calling repeatedly during the day
- Demanding more money than the consumer owes or refusing to provide proof of the debt
- Adding more fees or charges that are not part of the original agreement
- Making threats or using abusive or vulgar language
- Calling the consumer’s friends, family, employers or others to discuss the consumer’s debt or try to find the consumer
A consumer can send a cease communication notice, which the debt collector must honor, but it is possible that the creditor will then take further legal action to collect the debt. However, an Alabama consumer who is overwhelmed with debt may want a more permanent solution to the problem. For example, filing for bankruptcy is often an effective way to eliminate debt and find relief from debt collectors. Bankruptcy is not a process to enter lightly, so it is wise to learn as much as possible about its benefits and ramifications before taking this step.