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Tuscaloosa Creditor Harassment Lawyer
While creditors are legally allowed to contact you to collect on a debt, they must follow very strict guidelines about when and how they approach you. If you file bankruptcy, they must stop contacting you altogether. If they do not, you are entitled to obtain additional damages. A skilled bankruptcy lawyer can help you.
Eric M. Wilson, LLC, takes creditor harassment very seriously. When you are faced with overwhelming debts, you do not deserve to be harassed. We are aggressive advocates on behalf of debtors in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and we do what it takes to protect your rights while seeking debt relief through bankruptcy. Our quality of legal services is truly unmatched. Call 205-349-1280 for a free consultation.
What is Creditor Harassment?
Creditor harassment is just how it sounds: any kind of written or electronic communication from creditors that has the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm people about their debt. According to federal law (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), creditor harassment is illegal. Victims shouldn’t tolerate this kind of treatment from creditors, no matter how much debt they have.
Alabama Laws About Harassing Communications
Not only does federal law protect debtors from creditor harassment, but so does Alabama law. In fact, Alabama classifies harassment from anyone as a Class C misdemeanor. According to Alabama Code Title 13A-11-8, harassment involves abusive or obscene language and physical contact that causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety. The same law claims that harassing communications involves lewd or obscene words via written or electronic communication that’s designed to cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety. The only exception to this law is legitimate business telephone communications.
How Common is Creditor Harassment in the U.S.?
Unfortunately, creditor harassment is a frequent issue for Americans. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the most common types of complaints that they receive are about harassing communications from debt collectors. On top of that, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received approximately 75,200 creditor harassment complaints in 2020 according to a report from debt.org.
What Kind of Debt Are Debt Collectors Harassing People About the Most?
Debt collectors engage in harassing communications about medical debt the most because Americans have more medical debt than any other type of debt. According to a 2021 report from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), debt collectors and their agencies held approximately $140 billion in unpaid medical bills in 2020 alone.
Because creditor harassment often goes hand in hand with medical debt, the Biden Administration released new creditor guidelines in April 2022. These guidelines are designed to:
- Protect Americans from abusive or obscene language from creditors about their medical debt,
- Hold creditors liable for their harassment,
- Reduce medical debt’s impact on whether or not Americans can receive other forms of credit,
- Help American veterans receive forgiveness for their medical debt,
- And make sure all Americans are aware of their rights when it comes to debt and debt collectors.
How Can Debt Collectors Legally Contact You?
It’s important to remember that debt collectors can still contact you about your debt. They just have to do it a certain way to avoid complaints and harassment charges.
Creditors can contact debtors through a telephone call, an email, a letter, or even a text message. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) also prohibits creditors from contacting people before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you allow them to do so.
Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work?
Yes, debt collectors can call you at work for legitimate communication, but only if you allow them to do so. If you tell a debt collector that you’re not allowed to receive calls at work, then they are legally required to stop calling you at work.
How to Stop Creditor Harassment in Alabama
If you’re frequently receiving lewd or obscene words or even threats of physical contact from your creditors, you have options. Listed below are just a few ways that you could potentially stop a creditor who’s committing the crime of harassing communications.
File for Bankruptcy
Not only can a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing stop creditor harassment, but it could also discharge most of your debt, which is the root of the problem here. Once you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay immediately begins.
The United States Bankruptcy Code explains an automatic stay as an injunction that protects you from further debt collection practices while you get your financial affairs in order. Creditors must obey the rules of the automatic stay or face Class C misdemeanors in Alabama.
The only exception to the automatic stay is regarding alimony and child support arrears. Because these debts are high-priority debts, creditors can still contact you about them.
Write a Letter
Another thing you can do to stop all harassing communications from your creditors is to write a letter that explicitly tells them to stop contacting you. The FDCPA states that creditors must follow all debtors’ requests for no contact. If they continue to harass, annoy, or alarm you, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission or even press harassment charges.
It’s important to note that you’re still going to have debt even if you send this letter. You can tell creditors to stop contacting you, but you must also make a good faith effort to pay off your debt.
Document All Harassing Communications
Make sure to document all communications from creditors that have the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm you. This documentation is especially important if you plan to press a harassment charge.
File an FTC Complaint
Next, you can file an official complaint to the FTC. Make sure to include the following information in your complaint:
- The name and address of the collection agency
- Your creditor’s name
- The dates and times of all of their attempts to harass or cause alarm about your debt
- Witness names and contact information
Sue the Debt Collection Agency for Harassment
Lastly, you can sue if an agency or person commits a crime of harassing communications. This option should be a last resort. If you sue a creditor for being mildly annoying, you’ll be wasting your own time and money.
If you choose to pursue a harassment charge, you have one year to do so. In other words, you must sue the creditor no later than one year from the day the abusive or obscene language began. If your lawsuit successfully proves that the creditor broke the law, you could win more than $1,000 plus attorney’s fees. It’s important to note that this lawsuit won’t get rid of your outstanding debt. You will still have to pay back your debt eventually.
Damages for Continued Creditor Harassment
If a creditor continues to contact you after you have filed your case, the legal team at Eric Wilson Law LLC will protect your consumer rights in pursuing statutory damages for their illegal actions. Depending on the details of your case, we can obtain compensation for:
- Repossessed property
- Property damages
- Damages for loss of work hours
- Mental and emotional damages
When you file for bankruptcy, the harassment will stop. If it does not, we will pursue legal action on your behalf through negotiation or litigation.
Call a Tuscaloosa Creditor Harassment Lawyer Today
Eric Wilson Law LLC is a top-notch debt relief agency in Tuscaloosa, AL. We are proud to offer our legal services to clients across the state so that their lives can be free of financial stress. If you’re suffering from creditor harassment, we’re ready to protect you and begin an attorney-client relationship with you. Call a Tuscaloosa creditor harassment lawyer at 205-349-1280 today for a free consultation.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
The following language is required pursuant to Rule 7.2, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
Eric M. Wilson, LLC
1902 8th St Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
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