The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) serves as a way to protect people like you from falling victim to unfair collection practices on the part of debt collectors. Unfortunately, they sometimes utilize underhanded, coercive or even threatening tactics in their attempt to get your money.
So how can you handle this behavior? Is there a way to distinguish between harassment and misrepresentation, as well?
Harassment vs. misrepresentation
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau examines harassing behaviors by debt collectors in addition to the misrepresentation they sometimes knowingly engage in. Harassing behaviors differ from misrepresentation in several ways, with a primary one being the aggression behind the actions taken.
When harassing you, a debt collector’s main motivation is often to threaten or scare you into compliance. They use many tactics to this aim, including the implementation of vulgar or crude language, and even downright physical threats to your home, property or person. As an example, they might threaten to physically remove you from your house, or paint a vivid picture of what homelessness could look like for you.
How misrepresentation stands on its own
On the other hand, misrepresentation often relies more on lying and creating a false narrative or making threats with no real way or intention to back them up. For example, they may threaten you with an arrest warrant they do not have, or with legal action, they cannot actually take. Another common tactic involves lying about the actual amount you owe in terms of your debt, exaggerating it and making it sound like more of a pressing matter than it actually is.
If you face either of these behaviors, you can seek legal help and take action against the debt collectors who acted against you.