Many consumers in Tennessee and other states are harassed by debt collectors every day. Reportedly, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is working on overhauling the rules related to debt collecting and the limits placed on collection agencies. The bureau says a recent study revealed that about three in 10 consumers who were questioned indicated that they had experienced creditor or debt collector calls during the past year. One in three of those said the debt collectors tried to collect amounts that had already been paid, or they demanded the wrong amounts. These calls can be for forgotten medical bills, unpaid credit card debt and more.
Debt collectors must identify who they are, on whose behalf they are calling and the amounts of the debts about which they are calling. The consumer may dispute that debt, and if the collector cannot provide detailed proof within 30 days, they may not pursue the matter further. Sometimes, companies sell their debts to third and even fourth parties, and these collectors may not have the necessary details to provide proof — and no right to try and collect it. Calls may only be made by collection agencies from 8 a.m. through 9 p.m., and they may be told not to call at work. Furthermore, calls to family members may only be to ask about the client’s whereabouts, and the debt may not be discussed.
Certain actions by debt collectors are not at allowed, including disrespectful or abusive language, impersonating law enforcement or government officials, and making threats about criminal proceedings. Threats about wage garnishments or debts attached to bank accounts are also illegal as only a judge can issue such an order. Lastly, the debtor may tell the collection agency to cease making contact; however, that may remove the creditor’s willingness to reach an agreement.
Tennessee consumers may find comfort in learning that they do not have to endure harassment by debt collectors. A consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can inform the debtor how unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, can be discharged by filing for bankruptcy. The lawyer can assess the client’s circumstances and explain the pros and cons of the different chapters of bankruptcy. They may also be happy to know that, as soon as bankruptcy is filed, the debt collectors must call the attorney and not the consumer.