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What Constitutes Collection Harassment?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Unfortunately, some collections agents use harassment techniques to collect debts. Some forms of collection harassment include calling a debtor before 8 AM or after 9 PM. Threatening a debtor or using lies to induce him to pay also counts as harassment. Likewise, discussing a person’s debts with his boss, friends, or coworkers is considered harassment as well. Additionally, a collection agent is harassing a debtor if he calls him repeatedly in a short period of time or calls him at work despite an employer’s rule against employee phone calls.

Calling a debtor very early in the morning or very late at night is one type of collection harassment. In many jurisdictions, collection agents are not allowed to contact debtors by phone prior to 8 AM or after 9 PM. Calling a debtor's home between 8 AM and 9 PM is usually considered reasonable. In fact, creditors and collection agents usually have the right to call between these hours, even on the weekend. If the debtor agrees to allow a collection agent to contact him in the early morning or after 9 at night, such calls are not considered harassment.

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A collection representative also may be guilty of collection harassment if he threatens a debtor or makes misleading statements during a collection attempt. For example, if a collection agent tells a debtor that he will show up at his door and embarrass him in front of his neighbors unless he pays a debt, this is considered collection harassment. The same goes for making misleading statements. For instance, a common collections harassment tactic involves telling a debtor that he will go to jail unless he pays a debt. In most countries, jail time is not used as a punishment for failing to pay one’s debts.

Discussing a party’s debts with others is also considered a type of collection harassment. In most jurisdictions, collections agents do have the right to contact a debtor’s attorney to discuss a debt. A collections agent may also speak with a party’s spouse without getting into legal trouble. If he does contact other parties about a debtor, he must usually do so for the purpose of learning where a debtor lives or works. If a collections agent discusses the debt with a person who is not the debtor’s spouse or attorney, this is usually considered harassment.

Repeatedly calling a debtor may be considered collection harassment as well. For example, calling a debtor several times in one hour may be considered harassment. Likewise, a collection agent may be guilty of collection harassment if he calls a debtor at work even though he knows the debtor is not permitted to receive phone calls at his place of employment.

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