Harassing telephone calls from debt collectors do not fall under the umbrella of the TCPA. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, protects consumers against various forms of harassment from debt collectors, including:
- Profane or obscene language
- Calls before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Threats of jail time or other prosecution
- More than three calls per day
- Contacting other people about your debt
Another area that the FDCPA protects consumers against is mistaken ID debt collection. In other words, if a consumer is contacted and harassed about another person’s debt, they may be able to sue the debt collector that is harassing them. It is not legal for debt collectors to hold consumers accountable for the debt of other consumers.
If you are experiencing an issue of mistaken identity from debt collectors, here are a few steps you can take in order to put a stop to the harassment:
- Acknowledge the mistake. Avoiding the debt collector is not an effective way of making them stop contacting you. Instead, speak to the debt collector and make sure to let them know that they are contacting the wrong person for the debt.
- Request a validation notice. The company is already required to send you a validation notice within five days of contacting you for the debt, but if they fail to do this then you can request it.
- Write the debt collector a letter. Reiterate that you are not the person they are attempting to reach, and demand that they stop harassing you. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter for your records. At this point, the debt collector is no longer allowed to contact you.
- Make sure to send the letter under certified mail. This way, you can get a receipt when you send the letter, to keep for your records as well. If you need to provide any sort of proof that you did, in fact, send a letter to the debt collector, this will provide concrete proof of mailing the letter. If you fax the letter to them instead of sending it by mail, make sure to keep a copy of the fax receipt.
- File a complaint. If the action persists, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Your complaint should be passed on to law enforcement agencies. Mistaken identity debt collection is currently the top complaint that the FTC receives.
- If all else fails…you can take legal action to put an end to the harassment. It is not legal to excessively harass consumers about debts that do not belong to them. Contact us and find out if you qualify to file a suit against the debt collectors.