Federal Law and Debt Collection, Part 3: What to do when harassed by debt collectors

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What do do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 1, Understand the law (review previous guides by Mr. McGrath)

A review of the information provided by Mr. McGrath in the previously published legal guides "Federal Law and Debt Collection" Parts 1 & 2 will give you valuable information on what kinds of actions to take to at least reduce the harassment you're enduring.

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What do do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 2, Gather evidence, Part A

STEP 2, PART A: GATHER EVIDENCE! If you do nothing else, at least gather evidence of unethical / illegal actions by a debt collector. This may mean that you must ask questions of the caller. Think about it this way: isn't it better to spend an extra few minutes now, in order to protect your rights - perhaps including recovering hundreds or thousands of dollars? Such evidence can include, but is not limited to: (a) voice mails; (b) caller ID records (if necessary, take a photo of the caller ID screen); (c) handwritten records, including such information as: (1) the date and time of the call; (2) the number that the caller called (your number: home? cell? work?); (3) the number the caller is calling you from, if you have access to that information; (4) the attitude of the caller, including any use of foul language; (5) the caller's name and the name of his/her company, as told to you by the caller; (continued in next section)

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What to do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 2, Gather evidence, Part B

STEP 2, PART B: GATHER EVIDENCE! Such evidence can include, but is not limited to (continued): c) handwritten records, including such information as: (6) on whose behalf the caller is calling, as told to you by the caller; (7) the caller's address and telephone number, as told to you by the caller; (8) the nature of the debt supposedly owed, including the amount, as told to you by the caller; (9) what penalties you face if you don't pay, as told to you by the caller; (10) whether you will owe the debt collection company any fees, as told to you by the caller; (11) whether the caller is an attorney or calling on behalf of an attorney, as told to you by the caller; (12) what actions the caller or creditor are going to take if you don't agree to pay what they are demanding, as told to you by the caller; (13) whether the caller is calling on behalf of a consumer credit reporting agency, as told to you by the caller; and (14) how many times the caller's company has called you in the past.

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What to do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 2, Gather evidence, Part C

STEP 2, PART C: GATHER EVIDENCE! Such evidence can include, but is not limited to (continued): (d) written correspondence (keep copies!); and (e) evidence from other persons a debt collector may have called; (1) for example, friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. may have been contacted by debt collectors; make an effort to get evidence like that listed above from those folks; (2) at a minimum, take notes yourself when others tell you that they received calls from someone looking for you; these persons receiving such calls may be your important witnesses at a later date.

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What to do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 3, Consider hiring an attorney

You may want to consult and perhaps hire a qualified attorney. A debt collector is not allowed to contact you directly, in any way, if (s)he is aware that you have a lawyer representing you on the matter.

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What to do when harassed by debt collectors: Step 4, Consider your legal remedies

If there is sufficient evidence of violations by the debt collector(s), one should consider the legal remedies available. This may include filing a lawsuit against the debt collection agency or just making the debt collection agency aware of your ability to do so, then entering into negotiations on the matter.

Additional Resources

Debt Collection Defense

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