Debt Collection Abuse is the use of unfair, harassing, or deceptive practices in collecting a consumer debt. If you owe a consumer debt and the lender believes that you are behind in your payments, chances are good that you will eventually be contacted (generally by telephone) by people trying to collect the debt. You may even be contacted – perhaps repeatedly – on a debt you do not owe or that is not even yours.
What’s at Stake
Your money and your sanity. Under time and money pressure to collect a debt, Debt Collectors sometimes engage in abusive tactics, including:
- threatening to harm you or your family
- using obscene or profane language
- repeatedly using a telephone to annoy you
- making false statements; for example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives or send anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or otherwise use a false name
- falsely implying that you have committed a crime;
- falsely representing that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
- telling you that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not.
The law prohibits these tactics. In addition, if you are a South Carolina resident it is illegal for a Debt Collector to say:
- you will be arrested if you do not pay the debt;
- that they will seize, attach, or sell your property (unless they have the legal right to so).
- that they will garnish your wages, unless it is legal for them to do so
- that actions (such as a lawsuit) will be taken against you when such action legally may not be taken, or when the collector does not really intend to take such action.
All of the above conduct violates Section 37-5-108 of the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code. Much would also violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Unlike the FDCPA, however, South Carolina’s law applies to parties collecting their own debts, whereas the FDCPA covers only collectors who are not the original creditors.
However, the FDCPA does provide two important protections to you — the ability to stop or limit contacts, and the right to make the collector “verify” the debt. Like South Carolina law, the FDCPA gives you the right to sue the debt collector when the collector does not follow the law.
Lastly, if you are being contacted on a cell-phone or non-land line, the contacts may violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA provides severe, per call, penalties to consumers who are contacted in violation of the Act.
We have represented consumers in every one of the above violations. If a creditor or collector is harassing you, contact us. We will work to put an end to the abuse immediately, and we will pursue your remedies aggressively.