Everyone struggles financially from time to time in life. There are always times we are on a tight budget; we don’t mean to overuse our credit cards, bounce that check, or not pay that bill that is long overdue. When we do things like this we must realize that the person or company we owe this debt to has certain rights under the law to protect them too, but there is sometimes a fine line between normal collection of a debt and harassment. A recent Georgia court ruling will probably encourage debt collectors to not cross this line so often for fear of repercussions.
This case in Georgia, Osorio vs. State Farm, was heard by the US Court of Appeals and had to do with a debtor providing a third party number when they purchased an insurance policy. When the policy holder did not meet their financial obligations and was unable to be contacted the third party number was auto-dialed an enormous amount of times in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and also in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A person has always had the right to sue if they feel they are being harassed by a debt collector, but this ruling increased debtors rights and made it easier to sue for harassment.
So how does this appeals court decision help the debtor? The debt collection system has become severely flawed and impersonal as debts are now constantly being bought up by third party debt collectors that have little information or involvement in the actual situation of the parties involved; all they know is they need to collect the debt to get a return on their investment and they often cross the line to do it. Before the only way a debtor had to stop the practice of numerous phone calls or auto-dialed phone calls was to respond in writing to the debt collector to have it stopped. The Georgia Court ruled that there is nothing in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that stated this request had to be written; so now it can simply be done orally over the phone and those who do not adhere to the consumer’s wishes will be subject to increased ease in which the debtor can now sue for harassment.
This is a big step to help limit collection practices that are seen as harassing and make these third party debt collection agencies take a closer look at their debt collection practices. If you feel that you are being harassed unusually in the collection of a debt you owe then take it upon yourself to sit down with an experienced creditor/debtor lawyer and find out what options are available to you. There is enough stress in life without the unnecessary harassment from bill collectors.