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Understanding harassment by debt collectors in Maryland

Living with debt is a reality for many Maryland residents. When these debts become due, debt collectors might come into the picture. However, there are certain behaviors and actions by debt collectors that are not just persistent but cross over into harassment.

This article will provide insight into when debt collection practices in Maryland cross the line into harassment, based on guidelines provided by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

1. Incessant communication

If debt collectors contact individuals repeatedly or continuously with the intention of annoying, abusing or harassing them, they have crossed the line. This includes calling at unreasonable hours, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

2. Using abusive or offensive language

Debt collectors should maintain professional communication at all times. Using obscene or abusive language towards a debtor is harassment and is not acceptable.

3. Making false threats

If a debt collection company or collector threatens to take legal action they do not intend to take or are not permitted to take, they are engaging in harassment. This includes threats of arrest, which are not a legal consequence of owing debt.

4. Misrepresentation or deceit

Debt collectors cross the line when they misrepresent the amount owed or falsely imply that they are attorneys, government representatives or credit reporting agency representatives. They should not deceive or lie to individuals about the nature of their debts.

5. Disregard of a written request to cease contact

Once a debtor in Maryland sends a written request to a debt collector to stop further contact, any further communication (with a few exceptions, like informing the debtor of a lawsuit) is harassment.

Debt collectors have a job to do, but there are boundaries to their actions. Recognizing harassment is the first step toward addressing it. Understanding these boundaries empowers debtors to stand up for their rights and seek a fair and respectful debt collection process.