Federal protections exist for consumers, including rules that govern the actions of debt collectors. Collection agencies and other bill collectors cannot participate in deceptive, abusive, or otherwise inherently detrimental practices when it comes to debt collection activities and attempts. The law that stipulates these consumer protections is known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.
Under the provisions of the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot place you on a “bad debt” list, which is a published list of debtors that have failed to pay. In fact, debt collectors cannot share your debt information with anyone but you, your attorney, the original creditor, or a credit bureau. Publishing or otherwise sharing your name and debt information in any other way is considered harassment under the FDCPA and is therefore in violation of federal statutes.
How to Address the Problem if You are on a Debt List
If you find out you’ve been put on a debt list of any kind, there are steps you can take to hold the collection agency or debt collector responsible for their harassing and illegal behavior. These steps include:
- Reporting the debt collector to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which are responsible for monitoring consumer and business interactions and enforcing FDCPA mandates.
- Reporting the collection agency or debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office, which is responsible for enforcing state laws governing credit and collection practices. The debt collector is likely in violation of state statutes in addition to the FDCPA.
- Hiring an attorney to sue the debt collector in state and/or federal court.
Implications of Being on a Bad Debt List
Having your information out there on any kind of a debt list can have significant ramifications, including affecting your ability to get a credit card, a loan, or even a job. Any large purchase that requires any form or extent of financing or payment arrangements can be affected by your appearance on a “bad debt” list. Being on such a list can even impact your ability to make payment agreements with other debt collectors.
With all of the potential implications that can arise from a bad debt list entry, it is essential that you act and act quickly to hold debt collectors responsible for their illegal practices. The stress and strain of debt collection efforts is hard enough without additional issues coming from debt collector harassing behaviors. To make matters worse, their repetitive phone calls are also unlikely to stop even after they ruin your name by adding you to a list.
Ending Repeat and Harassing Phone Calls
Debt collectors are legally required under the FDCPA to stop calling you if you send them a letter informing them to cease. Ensure you keep a copy of the letter, send the communication via certified mail, and pay for a delivery receipt so you can prove the debt collector got the message.
Many debt collectors that violate the FDCPA by constantly calling and harassing you will not be put off by a letter. In other words, they may continue to call and harass you regardless. If so, you will need to take additional steps, like reporting the collection agency to state and federal authorities and hiring an attorney to sue in state and/or federal court, if necessary.