Bill collectors in Texas and around the country must abide by the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but many of them do not. The 1977 law strictly prohibits harassment, but individuals struggling with overwhelming debts often receive calls from collection agencies on a daily basis and at inconvenient hours. Bill collectors are not permitted to publicize debts and must cease calling workplaces when asked to do so, but these rules are also widely flouted.
The FDCPA provides consumers who wish to put an end to harassment from debt collectors with a number of remedies. Collection agencies are required to cease communications after receiving a written request, but they may still pursue unpaid debts through litigation. Consumers can also report violations of the FDCPA to the Federal Trade Commission and file lawsuits against abusive collection agencies. The FDCPA is what is known as a strict liability law. This means that consumers must only prove that the provisions of law were violated in order to receive damages.
Debt collection practices that are permitted include filing lawsuits, selling debts, and seeking payments for expired debts. These are debts that are still owed but no longer collectible in court. Collection agencies may also offer to settle an outstanding debt for a lower amount. They can do this because they purchase debts that have been written off by lenders for far less than their face value.
Attorneys with experience in this area could file lawsuits on behalf of consumers who are being harassed by debt collectors. They could also explain that filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy puts at least a temporary end to collection efforts. This is because judges issue an automatic stay at the start of the bankruptcy process that requires lenders to stop pursuing unpaid debts. The automatic stay also halts lawsuits and prevents paycheck garnishments.