Creditor Harassment Attorneys in Martinsburg Using Their Years of Experience To Be Your Advocate
Carrying debt is not uncommon. There are current reports that state as much as 90% of Americans are stressed about money and debt. Unfortunately, creditor harassment is not uncommon, either. Debt collection attempts can interrupt our daily lives and create unnecessary stress on our families. The consistent calls, letters, and other forms of communication that stop our lives temporarily make the stress of money and debt only greater. There are state and federal laws that specifically address creditor harassment and offer consumer protection. An experienced attorney can help you address these issues and file claims, if necessary, against the offender on your behalf.
Hinkle Law has a team of experienced attorneys ready to assist you in this effort. You don’t have to do it alone. We have worked with many consumers over the years and have heard stories of threatening behavior, harassment from family members or friends, and even impersonating law enforcement as ways of collecting debt. Working with professionals who are well-versed in this category can put your mind at ease and let you get back to your life. Contact us today at (304) 885-1643 to get your specific questions answered and to begin the process.
What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and How Does It Affect Me?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA,) passed in 1977, is the main federal law surrounding debt collection practices. It covers debt collectors such as collection agencies, debt buyers, and attorneys who typically made collection attempts as part of their business. It includes debts such as medical debt, mortgage, credit cards, and other debts for personal or family purposes. The FDCPA does not cover business debts and generally doesn’t cover collection attempts made by the original creditor.
Some of the important aspects of the FDCPA are that it prohibits collectors from using abusive, deceptive, or unfair tactics in their attempts to collect a debt owed by consumers. It requires debt collectors to be honest and straightforward in their attempts to collect a debt. A material misrepresentation or material omission while attempting to collect a debt is considered abusive behavior by the debt collector and is prohibited under the FDCPA.
Debt collectors are also prohibited from disclosing your debt to third parties. They can not call your place of employment, for example, and divulge information to your employer regarding your debt. Collectors are also prohibited from calling your place of employment entirely if they have been made aware that your employer doesn’t allow calls at work.
There are also only certain hours of the day (between 8 AM-9 PM) that they are allowed to contact you, and are only allowed so many attempts a day to contact you so that your phone isn’t constantly ringing. If there is documented proof that creditors are exhibiting abusive behavior, statutory damages of up to $1,000 may be recovered.
In addition to the FDCPA, there are also laws under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA) that have been put in place to protect the consumer. Each state has its own laws in place to help further the efforts of the FDCPA. The WVCCPA specifically references ways in which the creditors can contact you, ways in which they must disclose information to debtors, as well as ways in which debtors relay information back to the creditors. You can consult an experienced debt collection attorney at Hinkle Law Firm to discuss how these laws apply to your specific situation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in West Virginia?
Each state handles its debts differently, and all of them have a statute of limitations on debt collection. The statute of limitations on debt refers to the amount of time that creditors have to file a collection suit against a debtor. The clock begins to tick when the debtor defaults on their obligations. In West Virginia, there are different timelines assigned to each debt category. Read below to learn more.
Promissory Notes are written documents containing a promise to pay an agreed-upon sum to a specific person or entity. In West Virginia, the statute of limitations on this category is 6 years, meaning they have 6 years to file a lawsuit in an attempt to collect this debt from the time that the consumer defaulted on their obligation.
Oral Agreements, Implied Contracts, and Open accounts have a timeline of 5 years. Oral agreements and implied contracts are typically agreements made between the debtor and creditor that were not documented. Open accounts generally consist of trade accounts or services completed by a vendor or contractor that were not collected on.
Written Contracts carry a ten years statute of limitations and typically include a signature of both the debtor and the creditor, as well as information regarding the nature of the debt, the maturity date, and the amount.
Auto Loans carry a 4-year statute of limitations from the default date to file a collection lawsuit.
Credit cards carry a 10-year statute of limitations on an outstanding balance on a credit line.
It is important for the consumer to understand the statute of limitation on their specific category of debt and when that time has run out. If that time expires, the debt typically becomes time-barred, meaning creditors can no longer file suit in an attempt to collect that debt. This does not mean that the consumer is no longer responsible for that debt. It is still owed; it just means that legally enforceable actions are no longer allowed in an attempt to collect.
What If I Receive a Collection Letter?
It is important to know your rights if you receive a collection letter. Before responding, understand that the FDCPA, as well as the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, outline specific rules that apply to how creditors may contact you. If their collection attempts vary from the rules, you can take them to court as a result.
It is also important to verify that the information is correct and valid. It is not uncommon for collection agencies to have the wrong information and contact the wrong consumer in an attempt to collect a debt. If the debt doesn’t seem familiar to you, dig further to confirm that it is or is not yours, to begin with.
If being contacted by phone, make sure to document their name, what collection agency they work for, their phone number and address, the original creditor name, and the amount owed. It is also important at this time to document what options they are giving you to dispute or confirm this debt. This information can be of value at a later date should the collector engage in practices that are not legal in attempting to collect a debt. Having this information also allows you to communicate to the collection agency in writing moving forward.
As scams are becoming more and more prevalent, it is also important to remember not to divulge too much information over the phone. It can feel overwhelming to receive calls demanding debt be paid, and in a panic, begin offering information about ourselves. Remain calm, ask for further explanation, and document everything you can to confirm that it is a legit attempt to collect a debt.
It is important to act quickly. If the debt isn’t yours and a collection agency has incorrect information, it can mean that your credit report is also reflecting this error. If the debt is yours, acting quickly can prevent further damage to your credit report and offer you more options to resolve it than if you were to wait to act.
What Are Some Things That I Can Do To Stop the Harassment?
If you or a loved one are experiencing harassing phone calls from a debt collector, you can take some steps to defend yourself. Documentation is very important. This can mean things like noting what the harassment consisted of if there was offensive language used, as well as keeping call logs, saving text messages and emails, and written communication from debt collectors.
You can also request that all communication from debt collectors be in writing rather than other forms of communication. You can work with an experienced attorney to help you properly draft a cease-and-desist letter, and the calls must stop after the debt collector receives this letter.
You also may want to consult an attorney to file a claim for damages under the FDCPA, bring a complaint with the state regulator, or report the matter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.)
How Can West Virginia Creditor Harassment Attorneys Help Me?
Dealing with debt collector harassment is stressful, frustrating, and sometimes even frightening. Just because you may owe a debt doesn’t allow the collectors to harass you or use deceptive and dishonest practices to resolve that debt. At Hinkle Law, we are strong advocates for consumer rights. You do not have to deal with harassment from creditors. There are laws in place that prohibit creditor harassment and other tactics from being used, and violators must be held accountable.
We take debt collection agencies to task every day over their bullying tactics and no-holds-barred attitude toward debt collection. Don’t sit back and allow unlawfully aggressive debt collectors to make your phone ring all day. Let Hinkle Law, PLLC help you fight for your peace of mind. We provide comprehensive representation to clients—with a focus on helping people stop creditor harassment, solve debt problems, and rebuild their finances.
Contact us today at (304) 885-1643. We are prepared to listen to your specific needs, explain your rights under the FDCPA and other laws, work with you to gather all the appropriate supporting documents, records, and other information that you need, and help you to take immediate action to get the debt collector harassment to stop.