New Jersey Lawyer webmaster article synopsis: Why you shouldn't let collection agencies harass or threaten you.
Stop Collection Agency Harassment
by Susan Chana Lask
Owing a debt does not automatically subject you to harassing, threatening and other inappropriate collection agency behavior. Some collection agencies go too far with what I call "renegade collectors" they will repeatedly call you at your home and/or business, threaten to send a marshal over to serve you with lawsuit papers or send intimidating letters, appearing to come from an attorney or law firm, stating that you will lose your car, wages and other property if you do not pay your debt! It does not matter that you failed to pay a debt or that you can not afford to pay your debt at this time no one should intimidate, threaten or harass you or coerce you to give out personal or financial information. Inappropriate collection procedures can intimidate you into paying for costs that may not even be your responsibility. You are protected by the law from inappropriate collection procedures.
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the New York City Consumer Protection Law Regulation 10 and New York State Statute, General Business Law, Article 29-H, (the "State Statute") all prohibit threatening, harassing and intimidating collection procedures. For instance, the State Statute prohibits a collection agent from (a) threatening to communicate with your employer prior to that agent obtaining a judgment against you, (b) communicating with your family or household at such frequency or at such unusual hours as can reasonably be expected to be abusive or harassing, or (c) simulating any legal or judicial process or appearing to be authorized, issued or approved by the government or an attorney to collect a debt. Also, if the collection agent sends you a letter demanding you pay without the required notice under the federal law regarding your confidentiality, your rights to dispute the debt and giving you the appropriate 30 days to respond, then the debt collector is automatically liable to you for any damages plus three times the amount of your damages. Each violation of the State Statute is a separate misdemeanor offense. You can file charges with the State Attorney General or your County District Attorney and also request a restraining action against the collection company to stop it from continuing abuse and harassment.
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If you feel abused or harassed by a collection agency, call that agency and get the name and address of the owner/president. Send your written complaint, by certified mail, return receipt, to the owner/president and include in your letter that you "believe that agency is violating the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other state and local laws and that you will (a) file complaints with the Attorney General or the District Attorney's office (subjecting the collection company to misdemeanor charges) and (b) request a restraining action against the collection agency." If the collection company continues to abuse and harass you, then go ahead and file your charges and complaints .
This article is certainly not all inclusive and is intended only as a brief explanation of the legal issue presented. Not all cases are alike and it is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney if you have any questions with respect to any legal matters.
Any questions and/or comments with respect to this topic or any other topic, contact:
Law Offices of Susan Chana Lask
853 Broadway, Suite 1516
New York, NY 10003
Susan Chana Lask, Esq. c 2004
Susan Chana Lask is named in the media as New York's "high powered attorney". She practices successfully all civil, criminal & appeals cases in State & Federal courts nationwide. http://www.appellate-brief.com
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