When Does a Debt Collector’s Calls Become Harassment?
A debt collector’s calls become harassment when they call you too often, outside appropriate hours, or if they call you at work. Has your phone been ringing off the hook or at odd hours from a debt collector? Believe it or not, there are laws controlling when, where, and how often a debt collector can call you. When a debt collector violates these rules, it may count s harassment and you may be able to take legal action.
Congress passed the in 1978 to protect consumers like you from unfair, abusive, or deceptive collection attempts. This doesn’t just mean that debt collectors can’t go around breaking people’s legs for money (although that would certainly violate the FDCPA and other laws). This law actually also prevents a debt collector from using the telephone to “annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.” Since the law says “any person at the called number” you don’t even have to owe a debt to the collector to be protected by the law. Everybody who receives a phone call from a debt collector is protected under the FDCPA. Now, many people may be annoyed by even one phone call from a debt collector, but that clearly isn’t enough to file a lawsuit over. So, when does a debt collector’s phone calls really become harassment?
How Many Times Can a Debt Collector Call You?
The most obvious way that a debt collector can attempt to annoy, abuse, or harass a person is by making too many phone calls. Until recently, the law gave no set number of times a debt collector could call but left it up to a judge or jury to decide if they thought the number of calls were too many. Luckily, November 30th, 2021, we now have a clear answer. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency set up to protect consumers like you. Recently, they passed a new rule stating exactly how many phone calls a debt collector can make before it is too many. Under the new rule, a debt collector cannot call more than seven times within a seven-day period. If a debt collector calls more than seven times in a week, it is assumed that their intent is to harass you. If a debt collector calls less than seven times in a week, it is assumed that their intent is not to harass you with too many calls. If your debt collector is placing more than seven phone calls to you within a week, you may have an FDCPA claim and be able to sue your debt collector. Remember, this rule assumes that more than seven calls in a week is harassment, and less than seven calls is not. However, this does not mean that this is true for every case. There may be special circumstances where more than seven times is not harassment, or less than seven times is harassment. There are also many other ways a debt collector can harass you. It is always best to contact an attorney to review your case, and Starks Law always does free consultations.
What Time of Day Can a Debt Collector Call You?
A debt collector may call you during odd hours of the day to harass you rather than call you too many times. The law lays out specific hours that a debt collector is allowed to call you. They cannot call you before eight in the morning or after 9 at night. This is 8am and 9pm your time. If a debt collector is in another time zone, their calls to you have to be between 8am and 9pm in your time zone. This means that a debt collector cannot get of the hook for calling you at 3am by claiming they called you from a different time zone and it was only 12pm their time. They cannot call you at 7am and claim they forgot it was daylight savings time, or their state does daylight savings time differently. The times they are allowed to call is based on your time, not the time they are at. If your debt collector is calling you outside of the appropriate hours, even if they have only called you once, you may have a good FDCPA claim and be able to sue your debt collector.
Can a Debt Collector Call You at Work?
Maybe your debt collector has followed most of the rules and called you only a couple times and only during the appropriate hours. A debt collector may still be harassing you if they are calling you while you are at work. Debt collectors are not mind readers and won’t always know when you are at work and when you are not. Them calling you at work is also not immediately considered harassment. In order for a call at work to be considered harassment, the debt collector has to know you are at work and be told by you that you cannot talk while at work. For some people, this may be easier to show than other people. If your debt collector is calling your cell phone, and has no idea of your work hours, it will be hard to show that they knew they were calling you at work. If you provide them the times you work and tell them they cannot contact you while at work, this would be enough to establish harassment if they then called you at work. This is even easier to prove if the number they are calling is a work number. As long as you have told them not to call you while you are at work, and they know a particular number is a work number, then calling it could be used to establish they tried to call you at work. If your debt collector is calling you while you are at work, when they know you are at work and you have told them you cannot speak while at work, you may have a good FDCPA claim and be able to sue your debt collector, even if they have only called you once.
How many times can a debt collector call you before it is harassment? Seven times in a week. When can a debt collector call you? They can call you between 8am and 9pm. Calling you outside of those hours may be harassment. Can a debt collector call you at work? No, as long as they know when you work and are told that they cannot contact you while you are working. Remember, even one phone call outside of the appropriate hours or while you are at work can be considered harassment. The debt collector does not have to call you ten times a day to have a claim. If you bring an FDCPA claim against your debt collector you may be entitled to damages, $1,000 for the violations, and attorney’s fees. You can learn more here about how much an FDCPA claim is worth. Having an attorney handle your case will make sure you get the most out of your claim and will make sure you do not have to worry about the legal technicalities of a lawsuit. You can learn more here about bringing an FDCPA claim. If you think any of these issues apply to you, are not sure if they do, or think a debt collector may be harassing you another way, give us a call. Starks Law always gives free consultations where we can discuss if you have a claim and how much that claim may be for. There is nothing to lose with a free consultation, except the time it takes to make the call.