While there are many good people working as debt collectors, there are some abrasive people doing the job as well. These are folks who feel and project a sense of superiority because they believe they have the person on the other end of the phone by the short hairs.
However, the law places strict limitations upon the way these people are permitted to interact with debtors. Moreover, suing a rude debt collector for engaging in abusive behavior is definitely a thing.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
Approved by Congress back in 1977, this legislation affords consumers legal protection from unsavory debt collection practices.
As these Freedom Debt Relief reviews illustrate, people tend to feel especially vulnerable when they owe money. To counter this, the Act dictates when collectors are allowed to contact debtors, how often they can and where they are permitted to do so.
It also prohibits them from employing profane language, verbal harassment and threatening to impose violence or unfounded legal action. As a result, you can take the offending individual to court to have a judge determine the validity of your concerns if you feel your rights under the Act have been violated.
In court, the person with the most documentation supporting their case usually wins. To that end, you should make it a point to keep every piece of correspondence you get from the debt collector, whether it arrives on paper or in electronic form. Start a file the first time you ever hear from them, regardless of the nature of their disposition.
Record every single phone call, taking note of the date and time it occurred. Inform the person you’re recording their call for future reference and do not allow a conversation to proceed if they won’t agree to be recorded. Honest people will have no problem with it.
Bearing in mind you may be presenting these recordings in open court, your demeanor should always be reasonable, polite, and professional — regardless of the way they talk to you. Your case will look much better if you’re being cool and they’re going off on you.
Report Them to the Appropriate Authorities First
Lodge complaints with your state attorney’s general office, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before filing suit in court. Having recorded grievances with these entities will shore up your case when you appear before a judge.
Keep careful records of when you filed those complaints so you can refer to the dates in question. You’ll have one year from the date of the most recent transgression to file your case.
Decide Between State Court or Small Claims Court
Consult an attorney before filing a lawsuit to make sure your case stands a chance. The attorney will also tell you if you’ll have a better shot in state court or small claims.
The advantage of state court is the potential for a much larger settlement when you can prove injury was inflicted upon you as a result of the collector’s actions. Small claims court can be faster and less costly, but settlements are limited. The collector will also be held responsible for court costs and your attorney’s fees if the judgment goes in your favor, regardless of the venue.
Use It as Leverage
Given you’re responsible for the debt, even if the collector engages in reprehensible behaviors, you can sometimes use the judgment to reduce the amount you’ll pay to clear the debt.
Sometimes it works.
Still, it’s important to understand suing a rude debt collector does not absolve you of your responsibility for the obligation. If you owed it going in, you’ll owe it coming out.
Note: While this article covers a law-related topic, it should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an experienced attorney before filing a lawsuit or threatening legal action based upon any the above information.