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How to stop creditor harassment this holiday season

Winter is here, and people across the Louisville area are enjoying the spirit of the season. It is a time of festivities, from the office holiday party to family celebrations, to ringing in the New Year. It is also a time of peace and joy. However, that joy could be marred, if a person is experiencing harassing phone calls from a debt collector. Fortunately, there are laws in place that put limits on debt collectors.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) puts limits on when and how a debt collector can contact a person about an outstanding debt. For example, debt collectors cannot call debtors at inconvenient times, that is, prior to 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. While they can call a person while the person is at work, if the person asks the debt collector not to call them at work, the debt collector must stop. Moreover, debt collectors cannot make repeated phone calls to collect on the debt throughout the day.

But, can debt collectors call during holidays? Perhaps. There is not explicit language in FDCPA that states debt collectors cannot call people during the holidays. Although, it may be possible to argue that calling during the holidays, such as calling on a holiday, falls under the FDCPA's rule against attempting to collect on a debt at inconvenient times.

Moreover, per the FDCPA, if a person asks the debt collector in writing to stop calling, the debt collector must do so. Nonetheless, the person still owes the debt, which if not paid, could affect the person's credit score. In addition, the debt collector could also still pursue a judgment against the person, which could mean the person's wages could be garnished to pay off that debt.

Sometimes, it is possible for a person to negotiate a payment plan with the debt collector. If that is not possible, another option a person might want to consider, if he or she finds that his or her debts are simply too much to handle, is filing for bankruptcy. Through a bankruptcy filing, a person may be able to wipe out debt, allowing them to move forward in the New Year with a clean financial slate.

Source: AJC.com, "Can a debt collector call you during the holidays? It depends," Jeanine Skowronski, Dec. 9, 2016

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