This blog will focus on the State of California and the State of Hawaii’s laws relating to how often or how frequently a creditor or a debt collector may call you in a single day. I have heard horror stories of people being called every hour on the hour of every day. These calls can be at home, at your work, or even to your spouse or household.
A creditor cannot harass or abuse you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the federal law that governs debt collectors. There is no specific restriction on how many times they may call you. A creditor cannot harass or abuse you.
In order to get the phone calls to stop, you must send the creditor or debt collector calling you, a written letter asking them to specifically stop contacting you. Here is a general sample:
[Your return address] [Date]
[Debt collector name] [Debt collector Address]
Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]
Dear [Debt collector name],
I am responding to your contact about a debt you are attempting to collect. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date]. You identified the debt as [any information they gave you about the debt].
Please stop all communication with me and with this address about this debt.
[If you dispute the debt, include the following:] Record that I dispute having any obligation for this debt. If you forward or return this debt to another company, please indicate to them that it is disputed. If you report it to a credit bureau (or have already done so), also report that the debt is disputed.
Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely,
Under federal law, once you send this letter out, the only remaining communication a creditor/debt collector may have with you is to do one of the following: (1) let you know that they will no longer be contacting you or (2) to let you know that they may pursue further legal action against you, such as filing a lawsuit or reporting your delinquency to the credit bureau.
THE ROSENTHAL FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
This Act controls against the original creditor AND any collection agencies. In that sense it is broader and more encompassing. It is also California’s law relating to protecting consumers from abusive or harassing debt collection procedures. Under this Act, it prevents creditors and collection agencies from placing continuous phone calls and considers the pattern of placed calls, in order to determine whether repeated calling constitutes as harassment. See Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1788.11(d).
So regardless of whether or not you want your creditor to contact you under California law you have the ability o ask the Creditor in writing to stop contacting you and the creditor/collection agency is under stricter scrutiny under California’s Act.
HAWAII FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
Hawaii’s Act is slightly less clear and has the following key language:
[§443B-16] Harassment and abuse. No collection agency shall oppress, harass, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of or attempt to collect any claim alleged to be due and owing by that person or another in any of the following ways:
(1) The use of profane or obscene language that is intended to abuse the hearer or reader.
(2) The placement of telephone calls without disclosure of the caller’s identity or with the intent to harass, or threaten any person at the called number; and
(3) Causing expense to any person in the form of long-distance telephone tolls, telegram fees, or other charge incurred by a medium of communication, by concealment of the true purpose of the notice, letter, message, or communication.
As you can see Hawaii’s law is a little less stringent and broader for the creditors but does not allow for phone calls with the “intent to harass.” Some examples of harassing phone calls could be as follows:
1. Calling repeatedly to harass at unreasonable hours of the day.
2. Publicly disclosing the debt.
3. Contacting the debtor at their place of employment when the employer doesn’t allow for such phone calls.
4. Threatening legal action without the intent to do so.
As discussed below, the easiest thing to do is to request a verification of the debt and write to the creditor in writing that you longer wish to be contacted.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET A LETTER OR A PHONE CALL FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR.
The first thing you should do is DISPUTE the debt. Do not ever admit or acknowledge that you owe the debt. Creditors make mistakes all the time. During the first communication with you, Creditors are legally required to give you notice of your write to dispute and ask for a verification of the debt. You as a consumer have 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt otherwise the debt is presumed to be valid.
The purpose of this dispute is to STOP the creditor from collecting on the debt until they can verify it.
They are required to provide you written verification of the debt within 30 days of the request. Whether you owe the debt or not ( who really cares at this point) it will automatically buy you an additional thirty days to go over your options and save a little more time and money than if you immediately begin negotiating with the creditor.
Sometimes your original credit card company will have already sent your account to a third-party collection agency or even worse, a law firm. Don’t worry about it, you can still ask them for the same verification.
HOW CAN THE SANDS LAW GROUP, APLC HELP YOU?
We help many cases in both the State of California and the State of Hawaii. Having been on both sides of the coin of a demand letter for collection of a debt, we know how to effectively communicate with your creditor in such a way that we are able to buy 4 to 6 months at a time before we have exhausted all settlement negotiations with respect to your accounts. If the first thirty days have passed since you received your letter don’t worry, we can still help.
If you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation, please feel free to contact us at 213-788-4412 or e-mail us at email@example.com