Debt collectors are the last people you want to hear from. When they call, it means that you’ve fallen far behind in your financial obligations and, if you can’t persuade the collector to accept a payment plan you can afford, your wages could be garnished or worse.
If the collector is rude and persistent to the point of harassing you, personal bankruptcy starts to look like an attractive option.
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
Don’t let a debt collector push you to that point. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, a consumer protection act passed in 1977, prohibits debt collectors from using abusive and underhanded tactics to get money from you.
Below is a list of activities which, when carried out while collecting or attempting to collect a debt, are illegal under the FDCPA.
- Calling you outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. your time
- Contacting you at work after you advise them that your boss won’t let you take such calls
- Swearing and yelling at you
- Threatening to have you arrested or sent to jail if you don’t pay
- Telling your friends, neighbors, and colleagues that you owe money
- Pretend to be police officers or government agents to scare you into paying
The FDCPA also gives you the right to request that third-party debt collectors stop contacting you, and provide you with proof that you owe the money and they are authorized to collect.
Alleged FDCPA Violations
Not all debt collectors are concerned with your rights as a consumer. Penn Credit is a collection agency located in Harrisburg, PA. It was established in 1987 and employs a staff of 100 to 249.
A search of the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) database reveals that Penn Credit has been sued several times for allegedly breaching the FDCPA during its debt collection activities.
According to PACER, in March 2014, an Illinois resident filed a Chapter 7 voluntary bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois, and listed Penn Credit in the petition. She was subsequently discharged on July 15.
Despite having been provided with notice of her attorney’s representation and having been provided with notice of her bankruptcy filing, Penn Credit allegedly placed excessive and repeated telephone calls to her to collect the debt.
She claimed that Penn Credit knew, or should have known, that she was represented by an attorney and that the alleged debt had been included in her bankruptcy case.
During some of the telephone calls, she advised the collection agency representatives that she had filed for bankruptcy protection. She later claimed that the collectors said that the calls would stop, but they did not.
In the complaint she and her attorney filed with the US District Court, Penn Credit was accused of violating 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(2) by communicating with her after it had been advised that she was represented by an attorney with respect to the alleged debt.
The suit was later dismissed.
Talk to an Attorney Today
If a call from 1-800-800-3328 shows up on your caller ID, a debt collector from Penn Credit is trying to contact you. If they are attempting to collect a debt that was discharged in a recent bankruptcy and appear to disregard your cease communications requests, contact a consumer attorney who specializes in FDCPA matters.
The FDCPA states that any collection agency that breaks the law can be fined up to $1000 per violation, and a judge may order them to pay your court costs and attorney fees, as well as actual damages.
Don’t let unethical debt collectors push you toward bankruptcy: a good attorney can help you make them pay instead.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is case: 1:14-cv-07054 from United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Penn Credit, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.