As a Memphis bankruptcy attorney, I know that serious financial trouble often provokes fear. Fear of unopened bills piling up, and fear of troubling calls from collection agencies. In many cases, these debt collectors are backed by the power of the law. They are allowed to seize your belongings and settle the debt, terrible as it may be.
I want to make a quick note about debt collectors and repossession since it’s tax season. The IRS has even more power than other collectors. They have more legal freedom to seize your property. It’s never a good idea to ignore financial issues, but even more so when you’re dealing with the IRS. If you have significant tax debt, an experienced Memphis bankruptcy attorney can help. Give us a call now at (901) 327-2100 and we’ll figure out a solution.
The law empowers debt collectors, but too often they misuse their power.
Many people come to me for help only after the collectors’ calls have escalated. I recently got a call from a man who woke up to find that the car that was in the driveway when he fell asleep was gone. As sad as it was, the repossession was 100% legal. But too often, collectors abuse their power. They take advantage of the average person’s understanding of the law and use illegal tactics.
The best way to protect yourself from illegal practices is to learn what debt collectors can and can’t do. These are some of the most important restrictions to know.
Generally speaking, collection agencies cannot take action intended to harass you. Remember, if you ever feel you’ve been harassed, hang up the phone and walk away.
That restriction means debt collectors cannot:
- Use or threaten to use violence.
- Threaten to harm you, your reputation, or your property. They also can’t threaten to harm a loved one, or their reputation or property.
- Use profanity or obscenities.
- Though there are some exceptions in certain states, usually related to child support, they cannot publicly identify you as someone who doesn’t pay their bills.
- Make repeated phone calls.
- Have someone call you without identifying themselves as a collector.
Debt collectors cannot:
- Claim to be from a law enforcement agency.
- Insinuate that they are connected to the government. Please know that in most cases, any collector who claims such collections is likely lying.
- Lie about the amount you owe.
- Claim to be an attorney or to represent an attorney.
- Falsely claim that your property will be seized or that you will be sent to prison.
- Say that you’ve committed a crime if you have not.
- Falsify documents.
- Use a fake name.
- Falsely claim to work for a credit bureau.
Even when empowered to collect a debt, agencies cannot use unfair or extreme practices. They cannot:
- Add unauthorized interest, fees, or charges. State law applies here.
- Deposit a postdated check before its date.
- Seek postdated checks only to threaten you.
- Use communication methods that cause you to face charges.
- Falsely threaten to seize your property.
Deal with the problem, not with the debt collectors.
If you’ve dealt with debt collectors, you probably have debt you can’t pay. Short-term solutions will not offer long-term financial freedom. If you file bankruptcy, you will never have to worry about debt collectors again.
Only bankruptcy has the power to stop wage garnishment, foreclosure, repossession, and harassment from creditors right in their tracks.
Get the peace of mind you deserve. Give us a call at (901) 327-2100.