Debt Collector Scare Tactics: Don’t Fall for Them!
According to a 2021 report, the average American is $90,460 in debt. A recent survey reports that 47 percent of Americans carry a monthly balance on their credit cards. 70% of those people say they cannot pay it off this year.
Despite debt being so common, we live in a society that stigmatizes those who owe money. People in debt are often so ashamed they do not seek the help they need. When people feel isolated in this way, they become a prime target for exploitation.
We would like to tell you about some of the primary debt collector scare tactics so you are better prepared for their manipulations. We will also tell you what you can do about it.
Know Your Rights
We have spoken many times on this blog that the Fair Debt Collection Privacy Act (FDCPA) protects you from third-party debt collectors who employ harassment and other unfair practices to try to collect a debt. Third-party debt collectors are those who either collect for the original creditor or who have bought the debt. Before dealing with a debt collector, you should have a good idea what they are allowed to do and what they are not.
If a debt collector violates your rights under the FDCPA, you can sue them for damages and legal fees. A good, experienced Florida debt collection defense attorney can inform you, and many including Attorney Debt Fighters, offer a fee initial consultation.
Don’t Be Intimidated or Manipulated by These Debt Collector Scare Tactics
Even when debt collectors operate within the law, it’s not pleasant to deal with them. The better prepared you are, the less likely you are to be rattled by an encounter with a debt collector and give into their demands when you really do not have to do so.
Following are some of the scare tactics you might expect from debt collectors.
Threatening Immediate Collection Actions that sThey Are Not Able to Take
Debt collectors often try to push you into immediate payment by threatening to take a collection action right away. For example, they may imply or outright tell you that they can immediately start garnishing your wages.
Until a debt collector goes to court and gets a judgment against you, they cannot take actions to collect such as seizing money in bank accounts or garnishing your wages. Even after they get a judgment, they still must seek court approval to take collection actions.
All of this takes awhile. You have some room to think and to call a good Florida debt collection defense attorney for help. You do not need to agree to anything right there on the phone when a debt collector calls.
Relentlessly Getting in Your Face
When debt collectors call, many people already feel upset and even afraid. Debt collectors know this, and they capitalize on it. The worst debt collectors might call you in the middle of the night, in a relentless campaign to intimidate you. Some might even show up on your doorstep.
Both of these tactics are illegal harassment. Legally, debt collectors may only call you between 8 am and 9 pm under federal law, which can seem overwhelming in itself. A debt collector may not call your number more than seven times in a seven-day period. Once they actually talk to you on the phone, they may not call them for another seven days. Be aware though, that these restrictions apply for each debt not for all your debts.
So even if debt collectors stay within the rules, that can still be a lot of calling that encroaches on your peace of mind. Want it to stop? A good Florida debt collection defense lawyer can make it stop immediately.
Other Forms of Harassment
It is illegal for debt collectors to harass you. That harassment can take many forms such as calling you names, calling you a thief or threatening you with legal actions they cannot take or even bodily harm. Don’t stand for it. You don’t have to talk with these people, and if you are harassed, you should contact your lawyer right away.
Lying About Your Debt
A debt collector may lie about the amount you owe or say that you owe debts that are no longer legally collectible under the law. Ask the debt collector in writing (and by certified mail) to prove that you owe the debt. Debt collectors cannot contact you about the debt until they send you verification.
If it is an old debt, check with your Florida debt collection defense attorney about the statute of limitations in your situation. After the time period set out by the statute of limitations, a debt collector cannot file a court complaint against you unless you have taken some action to restart the statute of limitations, such as by making a payment. If you pay anything on an old, dead debt past the statute of limitations or make an arrangement to pay it, you can bring it alive again.
Illegally Sharing Information about Your Debt with Third Parties or Threatening to Do So
If a debt collector tells family, friends, your employer or anyone else (except your attorney and perhaps your spouse) about your debt, they are violating the FDCPA. This is harassment, and once again, that is grounds for legal action for damages and attorney fees.
Giving You a Fake Deadline
A debt collector may tell you that you must pay by a specific date or the debt will markedly increase due to additional fees. This is not the case. However, be aware that if you ignore a debt collector long enough, eventually the creditor will probably file a complaint in court against you which could result in additional fees as well as a judgment that enables them to pursue actions to garnish your wages or freeze your bank accounts.
Call Us for Help
If you are tired of debt collector scare tactics and find that you cannot reach an agreement with them, you may want to hire a Florida debt collection defense attorney. To discuss your options, you can call us for a free consultation at Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighter. Submit this form or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora. We can make the harassment stop.