San Marcos Creditor Harassment Attorney
Some unscrupulous creditors will do everything in their power to make your life miserable. While it can be easy to feel helpless in these situations, you have rights, and relief options are available.
At North County Bankruptcy Clinic, we are ready to help you retake control of your financial future and put a stop to the unending phone calls. Our San Marcos creditor harassment lawyer has over 40 years of experience and knows how to effectively approach various forms of abuse and misconduct. Once our attorney has spoken with your creditors, we can walk you through your bankruptcy options as well as bankruptcy alternatives. Our goal is to provide the professional guidance and advocacy you need to overcome whatever financial difficulties you face.
What Are My Rights as a Debtor in Southern California?
Debtors in California are protected from abusive and deceptive collection tactics under state and federal law. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) extends numerous protections to debtors and restricts how debt collectors can communicate with you.
The Rosenthal Act is a California law that expands the definition of who is considered a “debt collector” for purposes of FDCPA enforcement. The federal FDCPA does not cover “original creditors,” while the Rosenthal Act does.
Under the FDCPA, collection agencies and debt collectors mustmake certain disclosures in all communications with you. Whenever someone contacts you, they must explain they are attempting to collect a debt and that any information you give them will be used for that purpose. Original creditors do not have to comply with this requirement.
A debt collector is also required to send you a written notice within five days of initially contacting you. This written notice must include the name of the creditor and the total amount owed. It must also explain that you have a right to dispute the debt and that you can request the name and address of the original creditor, if applicable.
It is almost always in your best interest to dispute the debt and request further verification, especially if you are not familiar with the debt collector or collection agency that is contacting you. You must dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of receiving your written notice. When you do this, the debt collector must prove they “own” the debt and have the legal right to collect it. They cannot legally contact you again until they produce this information.
When a debt collector or creditor violates a provision of the FDCPA or Rosenthal Act, you have the right to submit a complaint to regulatory authorities and file a lawsuit against the offending party. Though you may be able to recover monetary damages, violations of state or federal law will not erase the underlying debt.
You may be tempted to ignore a debt once you tell a collection agency to stop contacting you. This is a common mistake: In many cases, a debt collector will consider filing a lawsuit once they are no longer able to communicate with a debtor. If the collection agency has the right to collect on a debt and you legitimately owe the debt, you will almost certainly lose a lawsuit. At this point, the debt collector will receive a judgment they can use to garnish your wages. This means you will potentially lose a portion of your paycheck until the debt is paid off.
- Limiting when a debt collector can contact you. Debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M. unless you explicitly give them permission to do so. They also cannot call you at work once you inform them that you are not allowed to receive calls there.
- Limiting who a debt collector can contact and what they can disclose. Debt collectors cannot tell your family or friends about your debt. They also cannot publish your name on a public list in an effort to shame or embarrass you. Debt collectors do have the right to contact your family if they are only attempting to locate you, but they can only disclose information about your debt to your spouse or your parents if you are a minor or currently live with them. Debt collectors also can only contact your employer to confirm that you work there, obtain information about where to reach you, determine if you have medical insurance (if medical debt is involved), and/or to enforce a court judgment.
- Limiting what can be sent by mail. While debt collectors can (and are obligated to) send notices by mail, they cannot include information about the debt on the envelope or packaging.
- Prohibiting obscene language and harassment. Debt collectors cannot yell at you, use profane language, or call repeatedly to annoy or frustrate you. They also cannot threaten you (or any of your family members) with physical violence or any legal action that they do not have the authority to carry out. For example, a debt collector cannot claim they will sue you if the statute of limitations on the debt has expired.
- Prohibiting misrepresentation. A debt collector cannot claim to be someone they are not. They also cannot lie about the amount you owe or claim it is a crime to not pay a debt (except in the very rare instances where this is the case).
You also always have the right to tell a debt collector or creditor to stop contacting you about a debt. Once you have made this request in writing, a debt collector or creditor cannot contact you again unless they are delivering a notice of no further contact or a notice that they may take legal action they are permitted to pursue if the debt is not paid.
If you retain our San Marcos creditor harassment attorney, you can also request that all debt collection communications go through your legal representative. Our team at North County Bankruptcy Clinic understands how frustrating abusive collection tactics can be and is prepared to help you take steps to enforce your rights.
To avoid this and other damaging outcomes, you will need to proactively address the underlying debt. If a creditor has committed numerous violations under the FDCPA or Rosenthal Act, you may be able to leverage their unlawful behavior to negotiate a settlement. If this approach is not viable, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a great choice if you have little to no income, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you reorganize your finances if you do have reliable income. Our San Marcos creditor harassment lawyer can help you explore all of your relief options, including bankruptcy alternatives.