Creditor harassment is far more common than many realize

This article looks at creditor harassment, including what it is and how extensive of a problem it is.

One of the most frightening and frustrating aspects of being in debt is dealing with debt collectors. Many people who are in debt dread picking up their phone whenever it rings for fear that a creditor will be on the end of the line. While laws are in place that are designed to protect consumers from creditor harassment, the unfortunate fact is that many debt collectors routinely violate these laws. Below is a look at how common creditor harassment is and what consumers can do to fight back.

How often does creditor harassment happen?

As Time reports, last year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report showing that 75 percent of consumers who asked debt collectors to stop calling them nonetheless continued receiving unwanted calls. By law, a debt collector is supposed to stop calling if a request is made in writing for them to stop. About a quarter of consumers say they have felt threatened by a debt collector at least once.

The report also found that 40 percent of consumers had received four or more calls per week from debt collectors and a third of consumers had received debt collection calls either before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Both of those behaviors are illegal and are considered creditor harassment. The CFPB also found that more than half of all phone calls from debt collectors are for debts that either do not belong to the consumer being called or are for the wrong amounts.

Fighting back against harassment

As CNBC reports, consumers are protected from creditor harassment by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. However, many consumers are unaware of what their rights are under the law.

Among the actions prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are:

· Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (unless the debtor agrees to calls during those hours)

· Threatening violence, prison, or lawsuits

· Using profanity

· Making repeated calls in a short period of time

· Discussing a person's debt with that debtor's employer or other third party

Creditor harassment is a serious issue and in many cases debt collectors end up pursuing the wrong person or the wrong debt. Debt collection scams are also distressingly common. That is why consumers should verify that the debt is theirs before they make any agreement to actually pay it.

Talking to a bankruptcy attorney

One way to put a stop to harassing phone calls is to contact a bankruptcy attorney. With an attorney on one's side, debt collectors will be obligated to discuss the consumer's debt with the attorney and not with the actual debtor. Furthermore, an attorney can show those who are struggling with debt how bankruptcy may be an option for helping them get out of debt faster and for getting their financial affairs under control.