Can a Debt Collector Swear at Me?
No, a debt collector may not use abusive, harassing, or offensive language to pressure consumers into making a payment. This includes racial or ethnic slurs, swearing, name-calling, and similar tactics intended to demoralize and degrade you. Using language intended to cause a debtor emotional distress is a violation of Section 806 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from bullying consumers into paying their debts. It recognizes that a collection agency’s need to collect money to satisfy a debt does not supersede a consumer’s right to maintain their dignity. No amount of money owed justifies abuse. A debt collector may not mock, ridicule, and shame a consumer into paying a debt. Using profane and vulgar language is harmful behavior that the FDCPA was created to prevent. Without the existence of the FDCPA, collectors could use vulgar and obscene language to shame a consumer into paying their debt.
The FDCPA In Action
Rather than just being theoretical, collection agencies have been held accountable and made to pay for violating the FDCPA. In Horkey vs. JVDB & Associates, Inc., a debt collector maliciously phoned one of Ms. Horkey’s coworkers, despite having spoken to her moments earlier, and said, “Tell Amanda to stop being such a f—- b—-.” The court found this was a clear violation of the FDCPA, specifically section 806 (2).
Ms. Horkey prevailed in court against the collection agency on several grounds. 1. The debt collector deliberately left a profane message with Ms. Horkey’s coworker to shame and humiliate her. 2. The debt collector had spoken to Ms. Horkey fifteen minutes before calling her coworker and leaving a message for her to call them back. 3. The collector’s language when trying to collect the debt was profane, abusive, and harassing. Therefore, Ms. Horkey won her case.
What If I Swear At The Debt Collector First?
The FDCPA recognizes that dealing with a debt collector is a stressful, unpleasant experience, therefore they are not allowed to swear at you even if you swore at them first. It does not make a difference if you reacted angrily to the debt collector, they may not respond with profanity or obscene language. They are supposed to remain professional. Dealing with distressed, upset consumers is part of their job.
What Should You Do Is A Debt Collector Swears At You?
Bring them to justice! Debt collectors need to be brought to justice to stop them from doing to others what was done to you. If you believe a debt collector may have broken the law, you need to contact a lawyer who specializes in consumer law today and assert your rights. Collection agencies found liable for violating the FDCPA are responsible for all court costs and attorney’s fees. You may recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages while sending the message to collection agencies that this behavior is not okay!