LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Bill Powers | Oct 11, 2013

Criminal Prosecution and Debt Collection

Debt collection in North Carolina (and throughout the United States), given the extended period of financial hardship during the "Great Recession," has become increasingly confrontational. Contrary to the law of the land, unscrupulous bill collectors occasionally threaten criminal prosecution, arrest, jail and prison as a means to settle accounts.

North Carolina provides civil remedies to those whom threaten criminal prosecution. See Chapter 75:

§ 75-51. Threats and coercion.

No debt collector shall collect or attempt to collect any debt alleged to be due and owing from a consumer by means of any unfair threat, coercion, or attempt to coerce. Such unfair acts include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Using or threatening to use violence or any illegal means to cause harm to the person, reputation or property of any person.

(2) Falsely accusing or threatening to accuse any person of fraud or any crime, or of any conduct that would tend to cause disgrace, contempt or ridicule.

(3) Making or threatening to make false accusations to another person, including any credit reporting agency, that a consumer has not paid, or has willfully refused to pay a just debt.

(4) Threatening to sell or assign, or to refer to another for collection, the debt of the consumer with an attending representation that the result of such sale, assignment or reference would be that the consumer would lose any defense to the debt or would be subjected to harsh, vindictive, or abusive collection attempts.

(5) Representing that nonpayment of an alleged debt may result in the arrest of any person.

(6) Representing that nonpayment of an alleged debt may result in the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages unless such action is in fact contemplated by the debt collector and permitted by law.

(7) Threatening to take any action not in fact taken in the usual course of business, unless it can be shown that such threatened action was actually intended to be taken in the particular case in which the threat was made.

(8) Threatening to take any action not permitted by law. (1977, c. 747, s. 4.

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