When you have an outstanding debt with a private business, it may eventually be referred to a debt collection agency. Debt collection agencies are private companies that have a vested interest in getting you to pay. To that end, debt collectors may start calling you to try to ensure payment. Here are four things you should do to handle the situation.
1. Contact a collector harassment attorney.
The first thing you should do is get in touch with a collector harassment attorney. They have experience dealing with the laws pertaining to debt collection, so they're in a position to help you figure out your next steps. Debts have a statute of limitations that varies by state. After a sufficient amount of time passes, you can't be sued for your debt; however, paying any portion of your debt will reset the time limit, which may open you up to a lawsuit. That's why you should talk to a lawyer about your situation before making any payments or decisions regarding your debt.
2. Send a cease and desist letter.
You are not legally obligated to speak to debt collectors when they call you. The first thing you should do is tell your debt collectors that you would prefer they didn't call you again. However, debt collectors can be persistent, and this may not work. If debt collectors continue to call, you can send them a cease and desist letter. Your collector harassment lawyer can help you draft and send this letter, which will ask debt collectors to communicate with you by mail rather than by phone. Many debt collection agencies will take a cease and desist letter from a lawyer more seriously than a simple request by phone.
3. Report the debt collector for harassment.
If the debt collector continues to call you, you can report them for harassment. Contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with information about the harassment can convince persistent debt collectors to stop. Your collection harassment lawyer can help you with this process.
4. Sue the debt collector.
If the phone calls still won't stop, you can sue the debt collector for harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collection agencies from taking steps that constitute harassment. Your attorney can help you build a lawsuit against the debt collector in question. If you win, you may receive up to $1,000 in damages, in addition to reimbursement for the fees you spent in court, according to Lemberg Law.