If you are struggling with debt, chances are you think or worry about it just about every day. Every time you open a bill you can’t pay or buy something with a credit card you know you aren’t making payments on, you think about debt. And even if you try to ignore it or focus on something else for a bit, the seemingly non-stop calls and letters from debt collectors can make that impossible.

Dealing with debt is already upsetting enough without the added frustration and embarrassment of being hounded by agents trying to collect debt you can’t pay or don’t think you owe. If you are in this situation, you need to understand that you have rights as a consumer when it comes to debt collection efforts and have the power to stop creditor harassment.

To begin with, you need to know that debt collectors can’t just do whatever they want. There are strict rules in place set by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act with which all collection agents are expected to comply.

The FDCPA is extensive and addresses a number of very specific acts and practices that are allowed or prohibited. But broadly speaking, it protects consumers by forbidding collectors from:

  • Lying about the debt owed
  • Using profane language
  • Contacting people at inconvenient times and, in some cases, at work
  • Discussing debt with anyone else in a person’s home
  • Intimidating  or threatening a person
  • Lying about who they are
  • Contacting a person directly who has an attorney
  • Continuing to call or harass a person who has filed for bankruptcy protection

If you believe you have been subjected to this type of unlawful and harassing treatment by creditors, you need to know that you can put a stop to it. One option is that you can file a complaint which, in some cases, could lead to an award of civil damages. You may also want to consider filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as doing so will immediately shield you from further collection efforts.

Discussing these options and your rights as a consumer with your attorney can be a good step toward finding some relief from creditors and the debt weighing you down.