Falling behind on loans and other payments is extremely stressful. And that stress only increases when creditors begin harassing individuals to make up for missed payments. This harassment can increase if someone does not have the assets to pay their debts.
The first thing that anyone facing creditor harassment in New Mexico should know is that it is against the law. The next thing to remember is that individuals have options to stop this harassment.
1. Know the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA regulates how creditors can approach collecting debts. It prohibits harassment of any kind during debt collection, including:
- Using rude or profane language
- Calling continually and at unreasonable times
- Deceiving the individual by misrepresentation
- Contacting the individual’s family or workplace
Under the FDCPA, every creditor must identify themselves as well as their purpose whenever they contact an individual. They must also inform the individual of their rights and options.
If individuals understand the rules of the FDCPA, they can protect themselves against creditor harassment. It is even possible to remind the harassing creditor of the FDCPA to prevent further harassment.
2. Send a letter to the creditor
This is usually the first step to handling creditor harassment. Right after missing a payment, an individual can write a letter to the creditor that:
- Addresses the issue right away
- Explains why they cannot make the payment
- Requests the creditor to stop any harassment
- Sets up a plan for when they expect to pay
Immediately informing a creditor about the inability to pay a debt can often stop harassment before it begins.
3. Keep a record of the harassment
If sending a letter does not stop creditor harassment, it is helpful to keep track of it. This includes keeping any letters or documenting phone calls. It is also helpful to record when the harassment occurred.
Keeping track of the harassment can help individuals if they face a dispute with their creditor, or if their creditor files a claim against them.
4. File bankruptcy
The automatic stay from filing bankruptcy immediately stops creditor harassment. And creditors could face significant penalties if they contact someone after bankruptcy.
However, it is important to note that bankruptcy is a significant decision. It can impact almost every area of someone’s life. So, stopping creditor harassment should not be the only reason to file bankruptcy.
There are many other factors to consider before deciding to file bankruptcy. Stopping creditor harassment is only one benefit of those factors.