Creditor Harassment Lawyer in Kentucky
How to Stop Debt Collection Harassment
Nothing is more stressful than being buried in debt. But add non-stop creditor harassment on top of that debt, and the situation becomes even more difficult. Victims of collection harassment know the uncomfortable sensation of uneasiness whenever the phone rings, especially when it keeps ringing throughout the day. While most people assume there’s no way around creditor harassment, there are legal ways to make it stop. Contacting a Kentucky creditor harassment lawyer can help.
The first step is to realize that simply doing nothing will not make it stop. Unfortunately, collection agencies have an endless supply of people whose jobs are to solely make calls at all hours of the day. So, how do you make it stop?
The automatic stay that bankruptcy offers stops creditor harassment. One of the most important benefits of bankruptcy appears as soon as you file for relief under any chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Collections come to a sudden stop, and your creditors have to leave you alone. Known as the automatic stay, this feature of the bankruptcy process is essential to protecting the system of debt relief created under federal law.
It’s important to understand how collections work. Maybe you’ve wondered: If I pay a collection, will it be removed? How long does it take to remove collections from my credit report?
To learn how you can benefit immediately from the automatic stay of bankruptcy, contact us to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer at O’Bryan Law Offices for a free consultation. With four locations, our law firm helps people in Kentucky and Indiana stop creditor harassment and get on track toward restoring their financial independence. This page outlines common questions about creditor harassment, including, “Can a debt collector call you at work?”
What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the principal federal law that limits how far a debt collector can go to collect. It often works in tandem with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which outlines how debt collection must be reported in someone’s credit report. If a debt collector participates in collection activities that go against the FDCPA, they have committed FDCPA violations and may face penalties.
What Types of Debt Are Covered by the FDCPA?
Keep in mind that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not completely eliminate the ability of a debt collector to contact you about certain debts. Generally speaking, a debt collector cannot engage in abusive, deceptive, or unfair debt collection practices. The specific debts that the FDCPA covers include the following.
- Credit card debt
- Medical bills
- Mortgage debt
- Other types of personal debts that concern you, your family, or your household
The FDCPA also does not cover business debts. Additionally, it usually does not cover collections initiated by an original creditor. Debt collectors that the FDCPA does apply to include the following.
- Debt buyers
- Attorneys who collect debts as a part of their business
- Debt collection agencies
What Can Debt Collectors Not Do?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act specifically prohibits debt collectors from doing any of the following.
- Contacting you at unusual times or places (before 8 AM or after 9 PM)
- Calling you at work even if they already know they’re not supposed to
- Harassing you or anyone you know over the phone or through other forms of contact
- Contacting you after they have been informed that you have legal representation
Debt collectors may not continue to contact you if they know that you are represented by a creditor harassment attorney. If a debt collector calls you after you’ve retained a lawyer, give them the name and contact information of your attorney and ask them to stop calling you. Legally, they must respect your request and talk with your attorney as soon as they know you have one.
How Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Help Me?
You’re probably well aware of how important your credit report and credit scores are. The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines exactly how certain financial information, such as debt collection, can be shown on your credit report. Other state and federal laws exist that provide protections for consumers against the following.
- Obscene or profane language from a debt collector
- Deceptive practices for debt collection
- False or misleading representations on credit reports
- Constant telephone calls
- Other unfair practices for collecting debts
Kentucky Debt Collection Laws
First off, it’s important to know that Kentucky actually has a statute of limitations on debt. According to the state laws in Kentucky, the statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit for debt owed is five years from the last action on the account. If someone has debts that are older than the statute of limitations, these are called time-barred debts. Debt collectors can no longer attempt to collect on these debts, nor can they file a lawsuit for them.
Additionally, Kentucky follows federal guidelines when it comes to limitations on wage garnishments. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits debt collectors from garnishing more than 25% of someone’s wages per pay period. They can, however, garnish any disposable income that is greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage. Between this amount and 25% of someone’s income, they must choose to garnish the smaller amount.
What Can You Do if You Are Being Harassed by Debt Collectors?
We understand how scary and frustrating it can be to face aggressive or persistent debt collectors on your own. Luckily, our attorneys are here to help protect consumers in Kentucky and Indiana from deceptive practices from their creditors. We will also outline and explain your options for dealing with debt collectors and getting your finances back on track.
Follow these tips to help stop creditor harassment.
Don’t just accept being bullied by debt collectors. Collectors are not polite and will not work with you, but you are not under their control. However, don’t yell or lose your temper. Always keep a level head.
Remember that you have rights. There are certain things collectors cannot do when collecting debt. For instance, collectors are not allowed to call before 8am or after 9pm, unless you directly give them permission to do so. Set boundaries on their first phone call. You can also forbid them from calling your family or employer.
Most importantly, if you do not want to be called, then you can instruct them to cease all contact. After your phone call, send them a follow up certified letter for proof that you laid out all your ground rules. Federal law mandates that notices must be in writing to retain full legal effect.
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, creditors cannot legally do the following:
- Repeatedly call you
- Call you at unreasonable hours or late at night
- Call your employer if you’ve told them not to
- Call without identifying who they are
- Contact your friends, family or neighbors unless you give them permission
- Employ deceptive tactics
- Threaten you with child custody, arrest, or loss of welfare benefits
- Threaten with self-help repossession when not authorized by the law
- Use derogatory, obscene, or insulting remarks
- Directly contact you after you’ve told them to call your lawyer instead
While many people assume they have debt because a debt collector has called them, the truth is that you should never pay anything until you’re given a notice and proof of the debt. If the company calling you cannot provide you documentation of the debt, then simply tell them to stop contacting you.
Even if you’re aware of the debt you owe, make the creditor prove the debt to you. This step can protect you from fraud. Also, sometimes a third party company may buy the debt without receiving proof of it. That type of situation will only work to your advantage.
Always be upfront about your situation. If you cannot pay a debt, then tell the creditor the truth. If you know you’ll have some money in the future, then give them an estimated time when you expect to pay the debt off. Doing so could also help stop those incessant phone calls.
Fortunately, not all creditors are impossible to work with. Some creditors may even be willing to work with you. For example, they may allow you to make smaller payments if you pay a lump sum upfront. Or, they may even allow you to pay only a percentage of the entire amount owed instead of the whole thing. Third party companies will be more willing to work with you, since they more than likely bought your debt for much less than what it’s worth.
If you feel you’re a victim of creditor harassment, contact an experienced Kentucky bankruptcy attorney at O’Bryan Law Offices today. You have the right to sue debt collectors for harassment, but many debtors are unaware of this right. If a debt collector violated any part of the FDCPA in their communications with you, you can also file a complaint with the state or federal government.
If you wish to file a complaint on a federal level, you can report the debt collector to the Federal Trade Commission. Keep in mind that complaints can be filed under state or federal law. In Kentucky, you can file a consumer complaint against a debt collector with the attorney general’s office. No matter whether your complaint is filed on a state or federal level, you’ll need to provide the following information.
- Name and address of the collection agency or debt collector
- Name and contact information of your original creditor
- Witness names and contact information
- Date and time records of all debt collector contact
- Other important materials, such as recorded conversations, written communications, and any logs you have of the harassment
What Are Your Rights Against Lenders and Creditors?
Consumers and debtors often don’t realize how many rights they have when it comes to lending and debt collection. In fact, many debt collectors don’t want consumers to know their rights, as this makes it easier for them to take advantage of those who are already struggling. Not only do state and federal laws protect consumers from shady lending practices, but they also prevent debt collectors from acting in certain ways.
They even receive protections from discrimination. For example, lenders may not discriminate against borrowers on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, religion, sex, and many other attributes. We recommend establishing an attorney-client relationship with a skilled attorney in your area. This way, you can rest assured that your legal counsel will know all federal, state, and local protections available to you.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Debt Collector Harassment
You don’t need to file separate motions or affidavits to benefit from the automatic stay. All you need is your case number and our phone number. All listed creditors are notified promptly of your bankruptcy case, and most know enough to stop all collection activity.
Once in a while, you might hear from a creditor by mistake, but giving them your case number and our name will generally make them go away. Creditors who continue to pursue collections or harassment are violating the automatic stay and can be punished in court.
How Does Bankruptcy Stop Creditor Harassment?
As soon as you officially file for bankruptcy, you receive the protection of the automatic stay. This stay immediately goes into effect when your bankruptcy case begins. Many people view the automatic stay as a sort of “pause” that will give them more time to explore their options. In addition, your creditors will have to work with your attorney and the courts instead of harassing you for payment.
Benefits of the Automatic Stay
The automatic stay also helps with a few situations other than debt collector harassment. You can also achieve relief from the following through filing bankruptcy and getting the protection of the automatic stay.
- Foreclosure proceedings
- Disconnected utilities
- Multiple wage garnishments
- Public benefit overpayment collections
Contact the Experienced Bankruptcy Attorneys at O’Bryan Law Offices
If you’re struggling to manage debt from auto loans, medical debts, or other household debts, you may have encountered persistent debt collectors. Enduring harassment from a debt collector can not only affect you, but also your family. As a consumer, you have certain rights and protections against certain forms of debt collector contact. O’Bryan Law Offices is here to help you on your path to managing debt, stopping creditor harassment, and taking advantage of the legal protections of bankruptcy. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. We have offices in Louisville, Frankfort and New Albany. Call us at 502-339-0222 or contact us online.