Guide to Creditor Harassment Laws in New Jersey
If you have outstanding debt, you may be receiving countless phone calls from unknown parties claiming that you owe them. They may even threaten to sue you or initiate some other type of action against you. This behavior can be considered creditor harassment and is illegal.
Creditor harassment became such a widespread problem in our country that the government passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices ACT (FDCPA) in 1977. This is a federal law that protects consumers from improper collection practices that constitute harassment, abuse, and deception. You can contact our lawyers for help fighting harassment and potentially pursuing compensation for the violation of your rights.
Seek help from our experienced bankruptcy lawyers by calling Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 for a free case review.
What Constitutes Creditor Harassment in New Jersey?
Creditor harassment happens when a collector tries to acquire payment for a debt through intimidation, abuse, bullying, or coercion. In many cases, creditor harassment occurs through repeated phone calls to debtors. However, it is not limited to phone calls. Collectors can also harass individuals through text, mail, email, or by speaking with debtors’ friends and family members.
There are many ways that collectors can recover the money they are owed, including a collection lawsuit. Still, there is a line they cannot cross. If you are being harassed by creditors, call our bankruptcy attorneys for help fighting back.
Summary of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The FDCPA was originally passed in 1977 and amended in 1996. It was enacted as a response to a high number of complaints regarding collection agencies who were using improper methods to force people into paying their debts. This act applies specifically to collection agencies, as opposed to original creditors. It establishes that collectors cannot engage in conduct that constitutes harassment, deception, or unfair practices.
There are several practices that may constitute harassment under the FDCPA. For instance, threating debtors with violence or using obscene language against them will be considered harassment. Furthermore, collection agencies may harass debtors by calling them repeatedly.
The FDCPA outlines several prohibited practices that are considered deceptive. For example, a collector cannot pretend to be an attorney or threaten legal action that they never intend to take. Debt collectors are required to inform debtors that they are indeed collectors and that information provided to them may be used for the purposes of debt collection.
Finally, there are also many actions that are considered unfair under the FDCPA. For instance, depositing post-dated checks, threating to take property that is not secured by a debt, and sending a letter that includes a reference to debt collection are all prohibited, unfair practices.
The FDCPA allows for debtors to recover up to $1,000 from collectors who violate these laws. Furthermore, the act affords the Federal Trade Commission the power to bring enforcement actions against debt collection agencies who act improperly.
How to Stop Collection Agencies Who Harass You in New Jersey
You may be able to sue a debt collector who acts in violation of the FDCPA. Still, it is important to remember that harassment does not mean you no longer have to pay the debt you owe. You should not ignore any court summons or other legal documents you may receive pertaining to your outstanding debt.
When filing a lawsuit against a debt collector, you must provide evidence of their harassment. Accordingly, you should keep track of all calls and correspondence that they the collection agency made. Furthermore, you should record the time and date for each correspondence and a detailed description of what was said. Proving that a pattern of harassment occurred will be more convincing for your case than identifying a single instance of improper conduct.
Limitations Regarding When and How You May Be Contacted by Collection Agencies in New Jersey
There are certain restrictions regarding when and how you may be contacted by collectors. For instance, a debt collector cannot contact you at inconvenient places or times. For example, you cannot be contacted before 8am or after 9pm unless you specifically agree to it.
Furthermore, a collection agency cannot contact you at work if they have been told not to do so. If you informed collectors that you cannot be contacted at work, then they may only reach out to your place of employment to verify your address or other contact information. When doing so, they cannot let your employer know that you owe a debt.
Finally, if you are being represented by an attorney in connection with your debt, then collectors must contact your attorney instead of you. If you do not have a lawyer, then collectors may contact other parties like friends and family members. However, when contacting other parties, they can only inquire about your address, your phone number, or where you work. Generally, collection agencies are not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than your lawyer and you.
Should You Hide or Avoid Debt Collectors in New Jersey?
If you are contacted by a collection agency regarding a debt that you owe, you should speak with them at least once to see if the issue can be resolved. Even if you think that you have been contacted by mistake or are sure you cannot pay the debt right away, you should not ignore the collector.
To stop a collector from harassing you, you should inform them in writing that you no longer wish to be contacted. When mailing your letter to a collector, you should send the original through certified mail and keep a duplicate copy for your records. After they receive your letter, the collector may not contact you again unless they are merely letting you know there will be no further contact or are informing you that they are taking a specific action, like filing a lawsuit against you.
If You Are Being Harassed by Creditors in New Jersey, Call Our Lawyers for Support
Seek assistance from our experienced New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys by calling Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 for a free evaluation of your case.