430 Lancaster Avenue
Reading PA 19611
TF 800.595.7478 or 866.511.4005
What you need to know
- Why do Creditor's Act The Way They Do And What Can I Do About It?
You the consumer have choices to make with regards to your financial future. You can take the time to learn the laws, how they apply to you, what they can do for or against you, or you can choose to proceed in ignorance and suffer the consequences. It only takes a few minutes to educate yourself. It is time well spent .
Receiving debt collection calls can be very frustrating, to say the least. Sometimes it seems like the phone never stops ringing! Call after call, even when you've told them the person they're calling for won't be home until after a certain time or on a certain day. Why is this? What part of "they're not here" don't they get? These calls are driving you crazy, what can you do to stop the "harassment"?
First let's define the word "harassment". To be harassed, means to be annoyed, pestered, bothered, or bugged in such a manner as to disrupt the normal daily routine to the point that it cannot proceed in an orderly fashion. Because of this, many companies are adopting a zero-tolerance policy with regards to harassment. What this means to you the consumer, is that the perception of the person feeling harassed is being taken into consideration. If you feel you are being harassed, the company will generally adopt the position that you are being harassed. This protects them, as well as you.
Now let's define the words "Creditor" and "consumer". The Creditor is the person or company from whom money was borrowed or a product or service was purchased. The consumer is the person or company who borrowed the money or purchased the product or service from the Creditor.
There is a law that regulates what Creditors are allowed (or not allowed) to do in the course of collecting a debt. The law is called the FDCPA (The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act). It was established to give (the Creditor's) guidelines to follow and (the consumer) action to take if it is violated.
- Creditor's can advise you of information regarding their identity, the company they are calling from (if they are speaking to you the consumer, if "you" are not the consumer, they are to only identify themselves and attempt to find out when you "the consumer" will be at that number for a phone call), the nature of the call (what they are calling about), and pertinent information regarding the debt (who, what, where, when, etc).
- Creditor's can contact you at your home or place of business during times that are considered "reasonable" per the FDCPA. These times are from 8am to 9pm in the consumer's time zone.
- Creditor's can call multiple times in a day. This is not a violation as long as they do not actually make contact with you (the consumer). They can call up to 9 times each at your residence or place of business per day. This has been determined as a small enough number of times that it will not interfere with the normal usage of your telephone.
- Creditor's can require that a request for "no calls to the residence" be in writing. This will protect you as well as give them documentation that you requested that they cease telephone contact at that specific number.
There are many more things that Creditor's can do and these things are outlined in detail in the FDCPA. This is just the most basic of descriptions, however, it does give you a bit of an understanding of why Creditor's act like they do.
Some of the things that a Creditor cannot do are:
- They cannot ring your phone constantly just because you hung up on them. They can , however, call until they make contact (actually speak) with you (the consumer) as long as it doesn't exceed the allowable number of calls per day per number.
- They cannot tell you that they will call you hourly until the person decides to come to the phone and speak to them.
- They cannot threaten to take action that they do not intend to. (If they tell you that they are going to do something then they must actually do it! "Well, if you don't pay this by 3 pm today I will do ~such and such~." If they say it, then they better do it or you have a right to demand that they keep their word.)
- They cannot call you at your place of business once they have been informed that you do not want to receive calls there. They can be informed of this by you (the consumer), anyone there (not just your employer, it can be any coworker, receptionist, the janitor - ANYONE that is in the employ of that company).
- They cannot call your cell phone with out you or your spouse's permission. If a child, relative, or neighbor gives them the number, they are not allowed to use it once they find out it's a cell phone unless you or your spouse gives them permission to. A Creditor cannot cause you "undue expense" during the course of a collection call. If you are charged a per minute fee to use your cell phone this would be considered "undue expense".
Now that you know some of the things that a Creditor can and cannot do, what can you (the consumer) do with this information? What steps can you take to reduce the phone calls, to stop the harassment?
Teach everyone in the house how to take a message.
1. the name of the person calling
2. the company they are calling from,
3. and a number that they can be reached at.
4. tell them to say that they will give you the message.
That is all they should say. If they don't know a specific time or date, don't just make one up to get them off the phone, say I don't know. Creditor's are sharp and will use every tiny bit of information they can get from anyone. That's their job.
You or your spouse, your guardian or parent(s) (if you're under-age or impaired), or your attorney (or power-of-attorney) can ask that calls be stopped to the residence. Generally this request will need to be followed up in writing within 10 business days (14 calendar days). If this is not done, the calls will resume.
You only have to ask once, verbally or in writing that you not be called at your place of business. The calls must cease immediately or they have violated the FDCPA and are subject to fines and penalties.
If you chose to stop the Creditor's from calling you all together, make sure to leave mail contact open to them or you will have utilized a law called "Cease and Desist." Once you cut off all communication with a Creditor, the only path left for them is to turn you over to an attorney for litigation. Just as it is your right to request that they not call you, it is their right to utilize all methods (allowable by law) to regain their funds (or property) plus agreed upon fees, finance charges, and penalties as set forth in the original contract.