Debt collectors in Maryland can be persistent and, in many cases, aggressive as they attempt to collect money from people who owe debts. Being constantly pursued creates a stressful and overwhelming environment. However, there are some things you can do to stop the harassment and regain control of your finances.
Stand up to the debt collector
As a consumer, you have rights, including not having to endure abusive collection practices from collection agencies. You can write a letter to the collection agency and tell them to stop contacting you. Under legislation called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), they must obey your written request to stop all contact.
You can report the company to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if the collector does not comply. Be aware that even if the collector stops contacting you, you must still have a plan to deal with your debt because it will not go away. Your plan may include credit counseling, repayment plans or bankruptcy.
Keep clear, detailed notes on each interaction you have with debt collectors. Include the time, date and nature of the conversation. Note abusive or illegal behaviors, and consider having someone with you during debt collector communications.
You might be able to record phone conversations without the debt collector’s knowledge as further evidence of their behavior. Still, the legality of this action varies by state, so check your state’s laws regarding phone call recording.
File a complaint
If you have written a letter to cease communications, yet the debt collector keeps calling, file a complaint with the FTC. You can do so online.
You will need to provide documentation regarding the debt collections firm and the original creditor, dates and times of communications, any witnesses and copies of your debt collector communications notes.
You can also file a complaint with your state’s agency that deals with consumer protection and collector harassment. You would provide the same information as the FTC.
Seek professional help
Know when you need help from a professional, such as a credit counselor or an attorney. If the debt collection agent continues to harass you, they may have assumed that you are unaware of your rights and will not stop until you escalate the situation.
Debt collectors can make things feel overwhelming, but you can take back control and regain your peace of mind with these steps.