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Dealing with Aggressive Debt Collectors: Your Rights and Options

Understanding the Debt Collection Landscape

Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry; and unfortunately, many debt collectors use aggressive – and often illegal – tactics to intimidate consumers into paying. If you’re being harassed by debt collectors, it’s crucial to know your rights and explore your options for relief.Debt buyers purchase defaulted debts from original creditors for pennies on the dollar, then try to collect the full amount (plus interest and fees) from consumers. Some of the largest debt buyers include Encore Capital GroupPortfolio Recovery Associates, and Sherman Financial Group.These companies make money by squeezing payments from consumers – even if the debt is old, inaccurate, or has passed the statute of limitations. Shady collectors use harassment, lies, and illegal threats to scare people into paying debts they may not even owe.

Your Rights Under the FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, deceptive, or unfair practices when attempting to collect a debt. Some key prohibited actions include:

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  • Calling before 8am or after 9pm
  • Contacting you at work after being told not to
  • Using profane language or making threats of violence
  • Lying about the amount owed or their authority
  • Discussing the debt with third parties
  • Continuing to call after receiving a debt validation request

If a collector violates the FDCPA, you can sue them in federal court and potentially receive $1,000 in statutory damages plus attorney fees. Learn more about the FDCPA from the CFPB.

Dealing with Aggressive Collectors

Even though it’s illegal, many debt collectors will try to bully, threaten, and harass you into paying – especially if the debt is very old or questionable. Here are some tips for dealing with aggressive collectors:

  • Demand debt validation – Send a written request for verification of the debt amount and creditor within 30 days. They must stop contacting you until they provide this information.
  • Keep a log – Document every call, including the date, time, caller’s name/number, and details of what was said. Save any letters, emails, or voicemails as evidence.
  • Don’t admit to owing the debt – Any acknowledgement can restart the statute of limitations clock.
  • Don’t give access to your bank accounts or allow wage garnishment – Object to any court orders or judgments you receive.
  • Know when to hang up – If the collector becomes abusive or won’t stop calling illegally, end the conversation. You don’t have to endure harassment.
  • Hire a consumer lawyer – An attorney can force the collector to stop contacting you and potentially sue for FDCPA violations.

Statute of Limitations on Debt

Every state has a statute of limitations that limits how long a creditor can legally sue you over an unpaid debt. These time limits range from 3-10 years for most debts. Once that period expires, the debt is “time-barred” and legally uncollectible through the courts.However, collectors will still try to collect on time-barred debts through phone calls and letters. And if you make any payment or acknowledge owing the debt, it can “revive” the statute and make it collectible again.Check your state’s statute of limitations on debt here. If your debt is past that date, you may want to simply stop engaging with collectors and wait for it to fall off your credit report.

Options for Dealing with Old Debts

If you’re struggling with old, defaulted debts from years ago, you have a few potential options:

1. Debt Settlement – Negotiate lump-sum settlements for less than the full balance owed. This may be possible for debts that are very old or have passed the statute of limitations.

2. Debt Consolidation Loan – Take out a loan to pay off all your debts, leaving you with just one monthly payment to worry about. This can help stop collections harassment.

3. Consumer Proposal – In Canada, a consumer proposal allows you to settle debts for a percentage of what’s owed without filing bankruptcy.

4. Bankruptcy – As a last resort, filing bankruptcy can eliminate most debts you can’t pay back. But it severely damages your credit for 7-10 years.

5. Do Nothing – For time-barred debts past the statute of limitations, you may choose to simply wait for them to fall off your credit report in 6-7 years.Whichever path you choose, be very careful about reviving old “zombie” debts by accidentally restarting the statute of limitations clock.

Dealing with Debt Collectors on Reddit

Reddit has an active community discussing issues with debt collectors on subreddits like r/personalfinance and r/debtors_anonymous. Here are some top posts:

Debt Collection Questions on Quora

People also ask about dealing with debt collectors on question-and-answer sites like Quora:

Getting Professional Help

If you’re struggling with harassment from aggressive debt collectors, or you’re unsure of your rights and options – it may be time to seek professional legal help.Consumer protection law firms like <a href=””>Spodek Law Group</a> specialize in dealing with abusive debt collectors and can:

  • Force collectors to stop contacting you
  • Dispute inaccurate or time-barred debts
  • Negotiate debt settlements
  • Sue collectors for FDCPA violations
  • Defend against any lawsuits over old debts

Free Consultations Available

The attorneys at Spodek Law Group offer free consultations to review your situation and explain all your options for resolving debts and stopping harassment.To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call their office at <a href=”tel:212-210-1851″>212-210-1851</a> or complete their online form. They handle debt collection cases nationwide.

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