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Hounded by creditors? How to tell if it's harassment

Being in debt and feeling hounded by collections agents is enough to put any person on edge. If you are in this situation, you are likely feeling stressed out, frustrated and annoyed that you can't seem to escape the attempts to collect money you do not have.

Under these circumstances, it can be difficult to tell if you are just stuck in a bad spot or if you are the subject of harassment. Below are some examples of prohibited conduct that the federal government defines as harassment, as well as what you can do about it.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the following debt collection practices are harassing and unlawful:

  • Calling repeatedly in an attempt to annoy or harass you
  • Swearing or using profane language with you
  • Engaging in obscene communications
  • Publishing your name in a list of people who refuse to pay debt to unauthorized parties
  • Threatening you with violence
  • Threatening criminal action against you, your property or others
  • Intimidating you
  • Calling you without disclosing the agent's identify

If the agent contacting you engages in these behaviors, then it can be harassment. Unfortunately, many consumers are too scared or ashamed of their situation to challenge the collectors or speak up about harassment. 

But make no mistake: you have rights and protections from creditor harassment. You can request that the agent stop contacting you; you can file a complaint with the FTC; you can also consider taking legal action against the collector.

Even if collection efforts are not unlawful, they can still be annoying and upsetting. In order to put a stop to all collections efforts, harassing or not, you can work with an attorney to pursue debt relief options like bankruptcy. Taking this step can provide immediate relief from debt collectors and help you find long-term financial stability.

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