In debt? Collectors still have no right to bully you

I don't like to admit it, but I've never been good with money. I like to blame it on my parents who never really taught us about finances, but I'm almost 40, so I think the time has come for me to take full responsibility for my mistakes. 

I've had my fair share of financial problems, which means I've been on the receiving end of phone calls from the "lovely people" whose job it is to try to collect debts on more than one occassion. The majority of them have said what they needed to say and gone on to call the next person on their list. Others have been a little rude or persistent and I've dealt with them accordingly (by asking to speak to a supervisor, for example). But only a few weeks ago, we had to deal with one that took the cake. 

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And it wasn't even a phone call! It was a letter from some collection agency that threatened my husband with arrest if he didn't pay some kind of speeding ticket he supposedly got in Texas when he was driving cross-country during our move from Miami to Denver almost six years ago. What?

While we knew there had obviously been some kind of mistake, I'd be lying if I said that getting a letter like that doesn't scare you just a tiny bit. We ended up resolving the misunderstanding, but it got me thinking about all those people who might erroneously believe that it's okay to be incessantly harassed by debt collectors. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's NOT! So if you've been receiving phone calls from debt collectors before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. or they're calling you at work even though you've told them not do that, they're breaking the law.

Check out some of the other practices that are illegal for debt collectors under the Federal Trade Commission's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

  • Using threats of violence, harm or arrest
  • Using obscene or profane language
  • Falsely claiming that they are attorneys or government representatives or that you've committed a crime
  • Misrepresenting the amount you owe
Know your rights! Being in debt is already no walk in the park, don't allow debt collectors to bully you or harass you. It's illegal! If you've had any problems with a debt collector, get in touch with your state's Attorney General's office
 
Have you ever been harassed by debt collectors? How did you deal with it?
 

Image via Art, as a weapon/flickr

Topics: finances