How to Stop Annoying Collection Calls
We live in a world where credit governs many of the transactions on a day-to-day basis. From credit cards to cable bills, credit is a way of life. Unfortunately, there are times when issues arise and payments cannot be made. And then, the calls start. Not only is one confronted with financial difficulties, but also the constant phone calls asking for money can be downright crippling. Luckily, there are tools to stop the collection calls and clean up the situation.
Debt Collection Laws
Both California and Federal statutes provide protection for consumers against collection calls. The Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“RFDCPA”) (Cal. Civ. Code §1788 et seq.) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) (15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq.) enable individuals various remedies when the collection calls are flowing in. The acts basically parallel one another, providing remedies in both state and federal courts. The policy behind the statutes is simple: abusive collection practices should not be permitted nor taken lightly. Consumers need protection and should not be subjected to relentless calls with no protection whatsoever. The end result is to stop the unwanted collection calls
Step 1: Cease and Desist Letter
Where does one start in utilizing the RFDCPA and the FDCPA? The first step, in most cases, is to send a cease and desist letter to the creditor, essentially telling them to stop calling. In the cease and desist letter, a reason as to why the calls should stop must be provided. These include that the individual is seeking to file bankruptcy, that he or she has hired an attorney or that the debt is disputed. The cease and desist letters must also provide notice that the individual wishes to revoke prior consent to contact, which is almost always given in the overwhelming paperwork you have to sign when opening a credit card or buying a house.
Once a well-crafted cease and desist letter is in the hands of the creditor, the RFDCPA and FDCPA instruct that the creditor stops the collection calls immediately. So, the initial problem of dealing with all of the collection calls should stop there. If they continue, the same statutes provide several remedies for the individual. There are fines associated with abusive debt collection that will start upon the first call after the receipt of the cease and desist letter.
OTHER PROTECTIONS FROM HARRASSMENT
The RFDCPA and FDCPA also provide protection against other abusive debt collection practices. These include calls to people other than the debtor in attempt to collect a debt, deceptive debt collection practices (now you know why they always tell you that “this call is an attempt to collect a debt”), calls at an unusual time or place, overly frequent calling and many more. There are also common law torts that these abusive actions could give rise to a claim, including intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
REMEDIES FOR CONTINUED BREACH
What happens if the calls don’t stop? You will be entitled to various damages. These damages will include economic harm (i.e. hiring an attorney), non-economic (i.e. anxiety and embarrassment resulting from the calls), statutory fines and penalties, as well as other solutions such as a court order instructing the creditor to cease the calls immediately.
The statutory fines are set at $1,000 per violation or for each collection call in violation of the RFDCPA and/or FDCPA. It is important that you keep a log or journal of all calls received after a cease and desist letter is sent. Also, do not sleep seeking your remedies. Any actions must be filed within one year of when the calls took place or you will be barred from bringing the action.
If you find yourself being subjected to harassing collection calls, you should contact a local California lawyer immediately. The lawyer can help stop the collection calls and advise you on whether violations and recovery of damages are available.