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What is indirect debt collector harassment?

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors can no longer make harassing moves or take actions that constitute as harassment against people in debt.

However, some debt collectors have taken this as a challenge. Rather than ceasing with their harassment, they instead try other, more subtle forms in the hopes that their target will not notice that they are doing something illegal.

Why have methods shifted?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looks into harassment by debt collectors. Many of these tactics are very blatant, such as threatening a person in debt with bodily harm. Just about anyone will immediately understand they face harassment in that situation, and will often take legal action against the debt collector.

To that end, many debt collectors have instead shifted to more subtle methods of collection that do not involve obvious forms of threats. These indirect and subtle methods can range a spectrum.

Potential methods now used

Many will use phones in order to carry out their harassment. They may call at all hours of the day or night, disregarding “quiet hours”, i.e. hours in which it is impolite to call someone else’s home, such as in the dead of the night or during dinner times. They will not identify themselves in messages and may even call using proxy numbers to keep from getting identified.

In other cases, they may simply perform stake-outs outside of the property of the person in debt. They may have someone sit in a parked car just outside of the property’s edge, waiting and watching but not actually doing anything illegal, seemingly.

Even with these less blatant methods, the FDCPA still banishes such actions. Those facing them may want to consider their options.


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