You’re a few payments behind on the credit card payments and now your phone just won’t stop ringing. You choose to pick up the phone and some bill collector on the other end begins harassing you. They may threaten you with lawsuits, garnishment or even jail. They may tell you they’re going to call your employer and ruin your job and your life.
So what’s legal and what’s not and what’s true about what the debt collector can do and what’s not?
First, you should familiarize yourself with a couple of laws that are on the books to protect consumers like you. Specifically, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Texas Debt Collection Act govern the actions of bill collectors and collection agencies.
The Texas Debt Collection Act protects you against:
- Threats of violence, bodily harm or intimidation
- False accusations of fraud and criminal actions
- Threatening to call in another debt collection agency or collector that would employ more aggressive tactics
- Threats of seizing property without going through the proper legal proecesses
- The use of profanity and verbal abuse designed to coerce you into paying
When you hear the collector using any of these tactics, hang up the phone and contact a local consumer attorney. You could have a cause of action against that collector for violations of the statutes.
Collectors must follow the law and are not exempt because you are delinquent in payments to them. You may feel bad about being behind but that does not give the collector the right to harass and demean you. Let’s take a look at the proper way to collect a debt.
The debt collector has specific times during the day when they can call you to collect on the account. They are not allowed to call you at work if you have told them that you cannot accept calls there. The must be professional when calling and not use threats to get you to pay them. If the debt is delinquent long enough and they wish to garnish your bank account or wages, they must sue you in court. You will be served with the lawsuit documents and then have a chance to fight the debt in court or they will get a judgment. Its not until after the creditor obtains the judgment that they can garnish you.
If the collector is calling you about a delinquency in a secured debt such as car payment or mortgage payment, the process is different than garnishing your bank account. If you’re behind on a car payment, the terms of the agreement will govern and they could repossess the vehicle. There are laws protecting you when the repo man comes but I won’t go into that in this post. For a mortgage payment delinquency, the mortgage company will need to give you notice of the foreclosure and breach of the mortgage loan prior to them taking you home.
If you have experienced harassing calls, threatening letters or emails, do not hesitate to call me today at 469-751-7467. I will get these calls stopped and get your debt issues resolved.
Sims Law, PLLC
1202 E Arapaho Rd #110
Richardson, TX 75081