Creditor Harassment: Be Sure to Preserve Evidence
Creditors use harassment as a way to get you to pay.
Sure, there are laws against this. There’s the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), a federal law. And in South Carolina, we have the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code as well. Both statutes prohibit various types of creditor harassment like calling after certain times, use of profanity, threats of bodily injury, pretending to be from the government, threatening jail as a punishment for not paying the debt–among others.
But you need to prove it!
The slimy underbelly of the debt collection “industry” operates in the shadows and, many times, oversees. Much of what creditors do to get debtors to pay is to simply call virtually non-stop until the debtor can’t take it anymore. Paying becomes less painful than dealing with the relentless stream of calls.
That would never happen to me!
Guess again. One of my client got a very similar call in which the caller (obviously from India) said he was a law enforcement officer. It does happen. And if it does, DO NOT erase the message. The message is evidence and can be used against the creditor holding that debt. This can mean an award of attorneys fees or other damages–sometimes very significant.
Keep records of any calls you believe might violate state or federal laws. Keep anything they send you in writing. And keep those voice mail records debt collectors leave. Remember that the goal is to preserve evidence. This applies even if you’ve filed bankruptcy. The creditor’s calls or letters could be a violation of the automatic stay or discharge injunction.