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Consumers have rights when faced with creditor harassment

This article looks at how common creditor harassment is and how consumers can put an end to it.

One of the most stressful aspects of struggling with debt is dealing with calls and mail from debt collectors. All too often consumers feel helpless when dealing with an aggressive debt collector. However, those consumers, no matter how much debt they carry, still have rights when dealing with collectors and collectors are obligated to abide by federal rules when dealing with consumers. Shockingly, as Time magazine reports, the vast majority of consumers say that they have been victims of creditor harassment.

Creditor harassment is extremely common

Last year the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the results of a survey it had conducted in 2014 and 2015 of 2,000 consumers. The purpose of the survey was to get a clearer picture of the extent of creditor harassment across the country. Shockingly, the survey showed huge numbers of Americans have been on the receiving end of a debt collector's illegal and unethical practices.

For example, a quarter of respondents said they felt threatened during their last interaction with a debt collector. The survey also showed that 40 percent of respondents had asked a debt collector to stop contacting them, but in 75 percent of cases the debt collector ignored that request and continued to try making contact. Furthermore, 40 percent of respondents had received four or more calls by a debt collector in a single week and a third had received calls between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

What debt collectors cannot do

As CNBC points out, consumers do have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but many of them are unaware of what those rights are. Creditors are obliged to stop contacting a debtor if told to do so in writing, for example, and they cannot make repeated calls in a small amount of time. They are also prohibited from contacting a debtor at an inconvenient time, which would be between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Similarly, debt collectors cannot threaten or abuse consumers.

Unfortunately, people who are already struggling with debt understandably often feel intimidated when dealing with an unethical debt collector. Given that a third of Americans have been contacted by a debt collector, however, it is vital that they understand what their rights are and how to enforce them.

Talking to a bankruptcy attorney

One way to put an end to creditor harassment is by talking to a bankruptcy attorney. While bankruptcy may sound scary, it can provide the financial relief that many people need to get back on their feet. Furthermore, all contact from creditors will be made through the attorney, meaning the consumer will no longer have to deal with collection notices and harassing phone calls.

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