Are There Laws That Protect Debtors from Creditor Harassment?
West Virginia has state (Chapter 46A Article 2) and federal laws that protect consumers from unfair debt collection practices. The regulations stipulate penalties for debt collectors that violate the rules. They risk losing their operating licenses if they’re sued in a class action lawsuit.
Creditor harassment is common, and if you’re a victim of the practice, consider consulting skilled West Virginia bankruptcy lawyers. They can provide an overview of creditor harassment practices and how you can protect yourself from the same. They can also advise on the legal course of action to follow.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA was passed in 1977 to regulate debt collection actions and applies to collection agencies, not the original creditor. The act prohibits the following behavior by debt collectors:
Using Fraudulent, Deceptive, or Misleading Practices
According to this WV Code, debt collectors should not deceive, mislead, or engage in fraud when collecting or attempting to collect a debt.
Credit harassment attorneys in Martinsburg list the following examples of bad business practices among debt collectors:
- Not giving their real name and hiding behind the company’s name
- Making false claims that they have private information about you in an attempt to force you to pay
- Misrepresenting your debt information or character during a court proceeding
- Threatening to increase your debt obligation through service or investigation fees
- Demanding monetary amounts that are contractually illegal
- Publishing your name on lists of debtors (this doesn’t include reporting information to credit report bureaus)
Using Deceptive or Oppressive Communication
State and federal laws prohibit debt collectors from communicating with debtors in the following ways:
- Calling persistently or many times a day for the same debt
- Leaving countless emails or voice messages
- Contacting a debtor endlessly without clarifying the debt in question
- Communicating with someone else concerning the debt other than you
If debt collectors have subjected you to these harassment behaviors, talk to creditor harassment lawyers in Martinsburg. They can access your case and intervene to stop your creditors from harassing you as you plan to repay the debt.
Violating Debt Validation Laws
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the law requires creditors to send a written notice to a debtor giving more information about the debt. They should do this within five days of contacting you or immediately after the Debt Validation Letter. The notice should contain the following information:
- Details of the debt
- The creditor’s full names
- A statement saying you can dispute the debt
- Information on the availability of more details if you require them
- Another statement validating the debt if you don’t respond within 30 days
If you believe a creditor or debt collector violated debt collection laws in any of the ways above, talk to creditor harassment attorneys in Martinsburg. They can fight to protect your rights and speak to the creditors on your behalf to reduce the harassment.
When Can a Debt Collector Call Me?
Debtor collectors shouldn’t call you at unusual times or places. They’re prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They should adhere to your instructions about not getting to you at specific times, such as the weekends or making appearances at your workplace.
They also are prohibited from making continuous or repeated telephone calls to annoy, harass, or abuse you. That includes calls that they make and go to voicemail. The law presumes debt collectors to be in the wrong if they call you about a debt:
- More than seven times within seven days
- Within seven days of contacting you about a particular debt
The frequency and pattern of phone calls, voicemails, and other forms of communication are crucial factors that may be used to assess whether debt collectors complied with or violated the law. An exception could be if you consented to be contacted more frequently. If you’re a victim of credit harassment, contact Martinsburg creditor harassment lawyers for help.
Can I Sue a Debt Collector for Harassment?
After a creditor harassment attorney assesses your case, they may advise you to take legal steps to protect your rights, including suing the debt collector for damages. Here are the steps to take to help you build a strong case:
- Keep a record of the time and frequency of the debt collector’s calls.
- Document how they speak to you and whatever you feel is questionable about what they say.
- Contact them after you compile your evidence, requesting them to stop violating the law. If they don’t stop, you can proceed to the next step.
- File a complaint to the West Virginia attorney general’s office, Fair Trade Commission, Bureau platform, or Better Business. The concerned department will reach out to the debt collector.
- File a lawsuit if the above steps don’t yield effective results.
Experienced debt harassment lawyers in West Virginia can help you deal with debt collectors at any stage of the process. They can work to ensure you follow the legal procedure and avoid making mistakes that could further complicate your case. They can also answer any questions regarding filing for bankruptcy if you cannot keep up with your debt obligations.
An Experienced Credit Harassment Lawyer Fighting for Your Debt Collection Rights
Being in debt can be unsettling, and the situation can get worse if debt collectors persistently call you and harass you for the same. Fortunately, the law prohibits creditors from harassing debtors, and knowing your rights is the first step towards stopping the harassment. Skilled creditor harassment attorneys in Martinsburg and Charleston can work with you to protect your rights.
The lawyers at Hinkle Law, PLLC, can use their years of experience to be your advocate against debt collectors that persistently call you concerning what you owe. Do not suffer in silence if you’re a victim of creditor harassment. Working with legal professionals can ease your mind and enable you to live your life. Call us at (304) 944-0571 for a FREE case assessment.