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Credit card harassment, also referred to as debt collection harassment, occurs when creditors will attempt to collect payment on accounts that are overdue by employing abusive techniques such as frequent phone calls at all hours of the day, using abusive language, or contacting friends and family members. This is not legal, and can be punishable by law, but proof of harassment is usually required. This can be harder to come by unless one is able to videotape or record the harassment, which is also illegal in some places without the individual's knowledge. There are certain things individuals can do to prevent credit card harassment if debt collection is occurring; communicating with the creditor and requesting, in writing, that the harassment cease is one of the most effective ways.
In general, if a credit card company is not yet ready to sue for an unpaid balance on a credit card that has gone past due and into collections, they will start by sending threatening letters and making phone calls. These will usually be a daily occurrence, which is typically not considered credit card harassment in and of itself. Instead, the harassment begins if the tone of the phone calls or emails becomes abusive or offensive; for instance, if the creditor uses inappropriate language or name-calling. It is also considered harassment if the phone calls come to one's workplace, to one's family or friends, or typically outside of the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Some collectors will also attempt to contact family members or coworkers and spread misinformation in an attempt to get the individual to pay.
Certain credit card companies will also try to add additional charges to an unpaid balance. In some cases, these may be interest charges, and this is generally completely legal, though others may try to place additional fees on the account. It is important to be aware of what is happening and to read through the credit agreement thoroughly to ensure that the credit card company is not doing something beyond its legal rights.
Sometimes, simply communicating with the credit card company, and attempting to explain the situation and settle the debt out of court can be an effective way to stop credit card harassment. A written letter to the debt collection company requesting that all communication take place over the mail rather than the phone, or that communication stop altogether, can also stop credit card harassment. In most cases the collection agency is still free to contact the borrower to inform them that a lawsuit will be following.
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