Published on:

“Creditors and collections agencies are calling my friends and family! Is there anything I can do?”

There are fewer things that can send your stress levels through the roof than the endless calls you receive from your creditors. They are relentless, aren’t they? Day and night, night and day. From the moment you wake up (or sometimes, they serve as your wake-up alarm clock), to the time you go to sleep (unless you go to sleep before 10pm, in which case their calls will wake you back up again), they call and call.

And no matter what you tell the creditors and collections agencies, they keep coming. You can tell them that you have been out of work for a year, and your unemployment benefits have run out, and you have a physical disability; they keep calling. You can tell them that you have four days to live, the planet is going to be hit be a meteor in a week, and the government has made credit cards illegal; they will keep calling (at least for the next four days).

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but it would be an understatement to say that the lengths to which the creditors and collection agencies will go is amazing. One of the things that they will do (assuming they have access to the phone numbers) is call your place of work, friends and family members.

How they get the phone numbers of your work, friends and family is anybody’s guess. It could be that you gave them those numbers (and just forgot about it), or they found the numbers on-line, or any other thousand wily tricks they have up their sleeves. But the main reason the creditors call these people is simple: they are trying to humiliate you. And if you think about it, it makes sense. The collection agencies don’t actually believe that they can get any money out of your friends and/or family. But what they are counting on is that after they call your mother and tell her how much money you, that you haven’t paid anything in months, and that the creditor is going to sue, your mother is going to freak out and call you. And getting a phone call from your mother where she scolds you for not taking care of your bills is not fun.

Same thing with the phone calls made to your place of work. If a creditor calls your job and proceeds to tell your manager that you have unpaid debt that is months overdue, and that they are going to garnish your wages as a result, its embarrassing.

But that’s the whole point. The point is to make you feel embarrassed and humiliated, in the hopes that you will cough up some money. Any money at all, even if you have to go and borrow from your mother or co-workers.

However, such tactics are generally unlawful. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits certain ways that the collection agencies collect money from you. Like calling your job, harrassing your friends, and getting your relatives on the phone. The usual fine that carries with each infraction is about $1,000.00. And if there are several such violations, then the associated fines can become quite high.

So if there is such a law in place to protect against these very tactics (like the harrassing phone calls to mom), why do the collection agencies keep doing it? Because it is more profitable than not to do it. Think about it. Other than reading about the FDCPA in the preceding paragraph, how many times have you heard about it? Probably never. Most people are completely unaware of the fact that there are consumer protection laws out there that make a whole host of things unlawful. Or, people may in fact be aware that these laws exist, but never do anything about it, because they believe that pursuing such a thing would be too daunting.

Well, this is precisely what the creditors and collection agencies are counting on. They are perfectly willing to assume that you either don’t know that the tactics they are employing are unlawful, or that you most likely aren’t going to do anything about it (other than complain to your friends and family about all the ridiculous phone calls). And even if an attorney files an FDCPA claim, the collection agencies still think its worth it to pay out a few thousand dollars in fines because they are still coming out on top.

Never the less, the tactics are improper and should be pursued. A skilled bankruptcy attorney (someone who is knowledgeable about Chapter 7s and Chapter 13s) can help prevent this from happening. If you’d like to speak with an experienced St. Louis bankruptcy attorney to learn more about your options, there is no time like the present. All phone calls and office consultations are free of charge.