Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) mitigates early morning and late night calls from debt collectors, it does not stop all of them from trying to skirt the law. Knowing your rights under this federal law can prevent collection agencies and other third-party debt collectors from employing abusive and harassing debt collection methods, including calling in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.
The Letter of the Law
FDCPA governs the actions of third-party debt collectors, or those hired by your original creditor to pursue collection accounts. These collection agencies often use less than reputable means of collecting debts, which is why the law was enacted in the first place.
The FDCPA stipulates that third-party debt collectors may not contact consumers before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. local time, regardless of the time zone from which the debt collector is calling. If you have collection agencies calling outside of the permissible “business window,” then they are breaking a federal law.
Occasionally, a debt collector may make an honest mistake and place call to another time zone, not realizing they’ve surpassed the allowable hours for contacting a consumer. More often than not though, debt collectors that don’t follow the mandates of FDCPA are counting on consumers not knowing their rights under the law.
The Impact to Your Health and Wellbeing
Continuous calls from debt collectors can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Harassing phone calls can affect the lives and stress levels of all household members. These implications only worsen when debt collectors fail to follow FDCPA regulations and call you at all hours of the day and night.
Your work, home life, and your overall health, not just your mental health, can suffer when just the sound of the phone ringing is enough to strike a nerve. Although stopping debt collection harassment doesn’t make debts go away, it can greatly improve your ability cope and to mindfully address the debts you have.
Actions to Stop Debt Collection Harassment
It can be difficult to deal with debt collectors on your own, especially if they’re unreasonable with their payment arrangement expectations, or if they’re abusive or harassing in their debt collection practices. When you initially receive phone calls outside the permissible “business window,” you can send a letter to the company or debt collection agency, notifying them that you:
- Understand your rights and know they are violating them
- Expect them to stop calling and if they fail to do so, that you will report the to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State’s Attorney General’s Office.
You can pursue more aggressive measures to end the harassment if your letter does not stop the early morning or late night calls. Hiring an attorney may be all that’s necessary to end the abuse and potentially to settle the debt. If communications from your lawyer do not put an end to the harassment, your attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit against the debt collector, debt collection agency, or the creditor.