If you are being harassed by debt collectors, or even threatened, you should know your rights and act on them. You have legal rights and protections. One way you can protect yourself from illegal or underhanded debt collection is under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). This prescribes what is considered to be illegal activity by a collector, and also outlines some of the actions that you can take against creditors.


If you are being dogged by creditors, you can write a letter to the collector demanding that he or she verify your debt. This letter is called the "dunning letter." Once you have sent it, the collector has to put a hold on collecting the debt. He or she must offer some verifying documents as well, such as an account statement. The collector has to delineate the amount of debt and provide the original creditor's name and address. If the collector does not comply but still comes after you to collect the debt, then you have the right to sue him or her.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act also restricts what a debt collector is allowed to do. A collector may establish your whereabouts through reaching third parties, but he or she still cannot reveal your debt, use postcards, or demonstrate to others that they are attempting to collect debt. A collector cannot talk with a third party regarding your debt unless it is your lawyer, a credit reporting agency, or the original creditor. He or she may contact your spouse, parents (if you are a minor), and any co-debtors, but collectors have to stop communicating with any of these people if you write a letter telling them to cease communication with you.

When a collector contacts you for the first time, he or she must inform you that the purpose of the communication is to collect debt, and any information you give will further that end. After that point, the collector must also introduce his or her own name, and proffer the name of the collection agency. There are further limits on when and how they can approach you. A collector by law cannot reach you at an inconvenient or strange time or place, for example, calling you any time after 9:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. A collector cannot go straight to you if he or she is aware that you have a lawyer; and he or she cannot call you at a workplace that forbids collection or personal calls.


If a collector threatens or inflicts violence or physical harm, then this is harassment, and thus is illegal. A collector also cannot threaten or attempt to damage your reputation; he or she cannot even publish your name to reveal that you do not pay up on debts. Collection agencies cannot publicly list your debt for sale, and collectors cannot employ foul and offensive language. It is harassment if they call you often, and if they call without revealing that they are debt collectors. They cannot be dishonest or deceptive about who they are, what you owe, and what penalties you face if you do not pay, etc. For example, they cannot threaten you with prison if you do not pay up, unless you are actually in one of those rare circumstances where this is true.

Collection agencies cannot sneak in additional fees or interest that was not already stipulated by law or in the original agreement. They cannot indicate in any manner on the exterior of an envelope that it is for debt collection, as this too is illegal. If you feel that you are being harassed by collectors, then contact a trusted Virginia Beach bankruptcy attorney who can counsel you about your legal protections.


This legislation applies to debt collectors, collection attorneys, bill collectors, and debt collection agencies. It does not affect creditors who come to you to collect, except in certain circumstances. You may have other legal recourse with a creditor though. That being said, if the creditor is a debt buyer or uses a different name to act as a collector, then FDCPA applies to the creditor as well. You can ask an experienced debt litigation attorney if your situation falls under FDCPA regulations.


If you feel that you are being harassed, contact your attorney about asserting your rights. You do not have to listen to their phone calls or even pay up immediately if you submit a dunning letter. A skilled attorney can help guide you through the legal complexities involved with these issues. At the David McCormick Law Group, we have been helping families in need since 1996. We want to be here for you to offer understanding counsel and to be your greatest advocates. You can get started on countering illegal debt collection, and perhaps discharging your debt, by contacting one of our dedicated attorneys today.

You can call to schedule your free initial consultation, and we also offer a free online case evaluation. Get started on your brighter future.

Contact the David McCormick Law Group today!

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