If you’re being harassed by debt collectors there a few things you should do:
1. As soon as you receive the debt collection company’s initial notice (a letter from the debt collection company which is required to notify the consumer that the consumer has 30 days to dispute the debt), dispute the debt. Oftentimes debt collection companies are not able to verify the debt. If they cannot verify the debt, they must stop all collection activities. Send the dispute letter to the collection company certified mail so that you have proof it was mailed and received. Start a file. Place a copy of the debt collection company’s initial collection letter, your dispute letter and the certified mail receipt in the file.
2. If the debt collection company does verify the debt, keep a notebook by the phone and start recording all phone calls with debt collectors. Specifically, record the date and time of the call, the person you spoke to, the name of the debt collection company and what the phone call was about. Be careful about recording conversations. In certain states, like Nevada, it is illegal to record a conversation without the other party’s consent.
3. While you may not be able to record your conversations with a debt collector, you are entitled to keep/preserve any recordings they leave on your answering machine or voice mail. Keep copies of as many messages as possible.
4. If you feel the debt collection company has violated your rights under the FDCPA, contact an attorney. Consumers are entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages and any actual damages (e.g. humiliation, emotional distress, loss of wages, etc.) suffered. The FDCPA awards a victorious consumer reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Attorneys’ fees and costs are awarded in addition to the consumer’s award of damages. In other words, your attorney’s fees and costs won’t be deducted from the $1,000 statutory damages.