When people owe debts that they cannot pay, it can cause worry and dread. Unfortunately, in addition to the stress caused by financial difficulties, many people grappling with unpaid debts deal with the anxiety caused by creditor harassment. Debtors have rights, however, including the right to be free from harassment by creditors. If you believe that a creditor's behavior constitutes harassment, you should speak with an attorney regarding your rights. The trusted Dallas Fort Worth bankruptcy lawyers at Powell Law Offices can advise you on your options for fighting persecution from creditors and help you seek relief.Debtor Rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are prohibited from abusing, harassing, or oppressing debtors. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to any person who regularly attempts to collect or collects debts owed to someone else. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors who make repetitious phone calls, use obscene language, make threats of violence, or call you without disclosing their identity are engaging in harassment. Debt collectors are also prohibited from calling debtors at hours outside 8:00 am to 9:00 pm or calling debtors at work after they have been advised by the debtor’s employer that such calls are prohibited. Furthermore, debt collectors cannot discuss a debt with parties other than the debtor, or if the debtor is represented by counsel, his or her attorney, or publish the debtor’s name on a bad debt list.
If a debtor sends a debt collector written notice that the debtor refuses to pay the purported debt or wants no further communication, the debt collector generally cannot continue to contact the debtor, although there are some exceptions. Additionally, a debt collector cannot contact a debtor who is represented by an attorney.
If a person is suffering from creditor harassment in violation of the FDCPA, he or she can file a lawsuit in state or federal court to recover the damages caused by the violation. If the person successfully proves a violation, he or she may be awarded attorneys’ fees as well.Debt Collection Under Texas Law
In addition to the protections provided to debtors under the FDCPA, debtors are protected by the provisions of Texas debt collection laws, which are largely similar to the FDCPA. Notably, however, while the FDCPA generally applies only to third-party debt collectors, Texas debt collection laws apply to the creditor with which a debt originated as well. Under Texas debt collection laws, debt collectors cannot threaten debtors with violence or legal action or make false accusations that the debtor has committed fraud or another crime. Debt collectors are also prohibited by law from making misrepresentations regarding the consequences of failing to pay the debt.
The Texas debt collection laws also contain specific provisions regarding the conduct in which debt collectors may engage when making phone calls to debtors. In particular, debt collectors cannot use obscene language or make phone calls with the intent to harass or annoy the person whom they are calling. Debt collectors are also barred from making repeated or continuous calls with the intent to annoy the recipient, or allowing the phone to ring incessantly. Additionally, debt collectors are barred from using unfair or unconscionable means or misleading, deceptive, or fraudulent representations in attempting to collect a debt.
If a debt collector violated the provisions of the Texas debt collection laws, the debtor can file a lawsuit to seek injunctive relief from the creditor harassment and to pursue any actual damages caused by the violation. If a debtor’s case against a debt collector is successful, the debtor is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees as well.Speak with a Knowledgeable Dallas Fort Worth Attorney
If you have outstanding debts and are being harassed by creditors due to your inability to pay, it is prudent to speak with an attorney regarding your available options. The seasoned bankruptcy lawyers at Powell Law Offices will work diligently to help you seek to put an end to creditor harassment. We have offices in Grapevine and McKinney, and we help people with bankruptcy-related issues in Dallas Fort Worth and throughout Dallas and Tarrant Counties. You can contact us via our online form or at (972) 584-9382 to schedule a free and confidential meeting.