Debt is a difficult enough burden without having to deal with the humiliation of creditor harassment. While it’s true that New Jersey creditor’s rights allows creditors means to collect on debts, some creditors take it too far. Some examples of collection abuse and creditor harassment include contacting you at work, contacting your friends, family or associates, making threats, and using profanity and bullying tactics. The problem became so widespread in recent times that congress passed a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits a number of the most abusive behaviors in the industry. The act is a federal law, which applies to all states including New Jersey.
The Act is directed towards individuals and businesses that collect debt for the creditors, which does not include the actual creditor. In other words, the Act does not effect a creditor who is communicating with the debtor for the collection of their debt. In general, the Act limits the collectors’ communication with the debtor, as well as the collectors contact with individuals other than the debtor, such as family, friends, employers, etc.
Pursuant to the Act, a debt collector may only contact the debtor during usual and convenient times, typically between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm. If the collector knows that the debtor is represented by a lawyer, all communication with the debtor must cease. Also, the collector is not permitted to call the debtor’s employer, if the collector is aware that the employer prohibits such calls. If the debtor advises the collector, in writing, that the debtor refuses to pay the debt or to cease all further communication, the collector may no longer communicate with the debtor. Also, the collector may not disclose to a third party that the debtor owes a debt and/or that the collector is collecting a debt.
Getting a law on the books is one thing. However, enforcing the law is something else. The sad fact is that too many creditors and collection agencies continue to flout national legislation in this area and act in an abusive way toward the clients who owe them money. Thankfully, there are ways to fight back. Speaking with a debt expert or a bankruptcy attorney is one of the quickest ways to apply a legal stranglehold to tactics such as these. The Act is firmly on your side whenever you want to put a stop to all such activity. It is important to note, however, that although the tenor will change, you will still be on the hook for the same money.
A more permanent way to resolve these issues is to file for bankruptcy. If the calls and letters have reached a point that requires legal intervention, it is possible that your financial situation has become irresolvable. Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New Jersey puts an immediate stop to all creditor contact – even polite correspondence.