Can Creditors Publish My Name to Embarrass Me?

As bankruptcy attorneys, we get a lot of calls from people who are being harassed by creditors. In many cases, these individuals are extremely frustrated. It seems to them that the tactics that are being utilized are not reasonable or fair. Here at OlsenDaines, we apply a simple rule that is almost always on the money when it comes to creditor harassment: If it seems to you like it should be illegal, it probably is, and there are legal steps that you can take to bring the harassment to a screeching halt.


Fair Debt Collection Practices Act


Back in September of 1977 a piece of legislation was enacted as a response to very aggressive tactics that were often being utilized by collection agencies. It is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This measure spells out the parameters that people who work for collection agencies must follow when they are attempting to collect debts. To go directly to the question that serves as the title of this blog post, under a provision contained within the FDCPA, collection agencies are not allowed to publish your name as a delinquent debtor in an effort to embarrass you. (One caveat would be that in some jurisdictions, collection agencies that collect outstanding child support payments are allowed to publish names without violating this law.)


There are many other provisions contained within this act that protect consumers. If the collector is aware of the fact that you are not allowed to take collection calls at work, they cannot call you while you are on the job. There are also restrictions with regard to the hours during which they are allowed to contact you. Under typical circumstances, their window is confined to the hours between eight a.m. and nine p.m. Plus, they cannot contact you at all if they are aware of the fact that you have legal representation. These are a handful of the restrictions, but there are a number of others.


Schedule a Free Debt Relief Consultation Today


You do not have to sit idly by while aggressive, demeaning collectors constantly invade your life. Many people fall into unmanageable debt as a result of circumstances that are out of their control, and regardless of the underlying causes, you have legal recourse. If you would like to discuss your options with a Portland, Oregon bankruptcy attorney, we would be more than glad to assist you. We provide free consultations to people in Portland and a number of other cities scattered throughout the state of Oregon. To set up an appointment, send us a brief message through our contact page and we will take care of the rest.


Prevent Collection Calls Before They Happen

There are few things more annoying and disconcerting than collection calls from aggressive credit card companies or debt collection agencies. As a bankruptcy law firm that provides debt counseling, we often hear stories from our clients about the tactics that are utilized, and many of them are actually illegal. Before we get into the things that you can do to protect yourself if you are being overwhelmed by collection calls, let’s take a look at some “rules to live by” that you may want to utilize to steer clear of problems with creditors.

Monitor Your Credit Report

You should always have a firm understanding of your current standing in the eyes of the credit reporting agencies. If you understand how credit scores are calculated and you know where you stand at all times, you are more likely to develop sound habits when it comes to credit utilization. There are a number of different websites on the Internet that provide credit scores or credit reports, and some of them are free. In fact, the major credit bureaus are required to provide a free credit report to anyone who requests one every calendar year. Plus, many credit cards now offer free credit scores to cardholders.

When you get your score, you can see the factors that contribute to the calculation. This knowledge can help you shape your credit usage. The length of time you have had credit is one factor, and your credit utilization ratio is an important determinant. Of course, timely payments are very important, and there is another piece of information that the bureaus use that catches many individuals by surprise. People with good credit are barraged with offers of additional lines of credit from every direction. It can seem as though you have nothing to lose if you apply for a credit card because you will get free shipping on an item, or a $50 credit on a plane fare purchase, or 6-months no interest or some other benefit. In fact, your credit score takes a hit every time you apply for an additional line of credit, even if you are approved. And your credit score will be lower if you have too many open cards even with zero balances.

Know Your Rights

If you stay abreast of your credit standing and you live within your means, you should be able to keep your credit card debt at a manageable level. Sometimes people make financial mistakes. Sometimes people who have very sound financial habits end up with overwhelming credit card balances due to circumstances that are out of their control, like medical expenses or unforeseeable living expenses.

Fortunately, you have rights under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that you can exercise if you are receiving collection calls. There are legal guidelines that collectors must abide by with regard to the things that they do and say, and harassment is illegal. You can sue a collector who is crossing the line, and creditor harassment is an area of specialization for our firm. For example, under this law, you can send the collectors a letter letting them to never contact you again or to only contact your attorney, and they are required to comply. The only exception is contacting you to give you a summons for a law suit.


Say Goodbye to FDCPA

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch issued his first opinion this week.  We learned a lot from this opinion.  Unfortunately, the most important thing we learned was that he can come to any conclusion he wants – that makes him a perfect fit for the Supreme Court.  This opinion is being heralded as well written and Gorsuch is praised for his “Melodic Phrasing”  (ABC) and his “Writing Flair” (FOX).  What was lost in all the praise was the simple fact that with one opinion, Justice Gorsuch eliminated the whole of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – 15 USC 1692).

The primary requirement when a judge is interpreting a law is to give the law some meaning.   What the Court ruled was that to avoid the FDCPA completely, all a debt collector has to do is buy the debt instead of collect the debt for another.  Nothing in the opinion states that a collector can not have a sell back provision and sell a debt back to the original lender if the collector is unable to collect.

Bottom line:  A lender and a debt collector can now write their agreement in such a way as to completely avoid the FDCPA.  Justice Gorsuch has now given the FDCPA no meaning.  For the 50% of adults in America who have debts:  You just lost your right to not be harassed.