What Constitutes Collection Harassment?

N. Madison
N. Madison

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.

Collection harassment may involve repeated, intimidating phone calls to debtors.
Collection harassment may involve repeated, intimidating phone calls to debtors.

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.

Several countries have laws in place to protect debtors' rights.
Several countries have laws in place to protect debtors' rights.

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.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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