By: Robert J. Nahoum
You’ve fallen on hard times as so many of us have. These days, it seems like every time the phone rings it’s the debt collection agency calling. You’ve explained to them that you can’t afford to pay the debt but they keep calling. Can they do that? How can I make them stop?
How Often Can Debt Collection Agencies Call?
Under federal debt collection laws known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short), debt collection agencies are limited in the time and frequency with which they can call consumers to collect a debt.
Under the FDCPA, debt collection agencies cannot call before 8 am or after 9 pm. Debt collection agencies are also not allowed to call consumers an “unreasonable number of times”:
- What is an “unreasonable” number of times you ask – an unreasonable number of calls has been interpreted to mean “repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.”
- What is “continuously” you ask – “Continuously” means making a series of telephone calls, one right after the other and
- What is “repeatedly” you ask – “Repeatedly” means calling with excessive frequency under the circumstances.
How Can I Stop Debt Collection Agencies From Calling?
According to the FDCPA, “If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to the debt, except –
(1) to advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated;
(2) to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or
(3) where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
The language of a cease and desist letter is not formal and only needs to make clear that the consumer is demanding that the debt collection agency cease communication. If the debt collection agency ignores the cease communication letter and continues to try and collect the debt, you will likely have a claim under the FDCPA.
If a debt collection agency violates the FDCPA, you can sue the debt collection agency for statutory damages up to $1,000.00, actual damages (like pain and suffering) and the debt collection agency may have to pay for your attorney.
If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.