If you are in debt, it’s not uncommon to experience constant creditor collection calls. However, some debtors experience serious creditor harassment and abuse. Some creditors can threaten debtors, verbally abuse them, deploy scare tactics like fake court orders, or demand unseemly favors in return for not paying the debt. The laws in Arizona protect debtors from such abusive behavior from creditors.
How the Law Protects Arizona Debtors
Creditors in Arizona are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is a federal law that protects debtors from abusive creditors and collection practices. Under Arizona state law, creditors and collectors are also prohibited from engaging in specific types of intrusive, abusive and deceptive debt collection practices. Unlike the federal law, the state law is a criminal statute. That means if you are a victim of any prohibited practices, the collection agency may be deemed liable.
The debtor can directly or indirectly sue an abusive creditor. Because this falls under criminal law in Arizona, the victim cannot directly sue the abuser for breaking the law. That is up to the state government. If you have experienced abusive debt collection practices, you can report it to a local county or city prosecutor who will potentially charge the creditor with a class 1 misdemeanor. However, as a victim, you can still sue the abusive debt collector for monetary damages under the FDCPA mentioned above. You will need assistance from a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale who will be very familiar with this provision of the federal laws.
Debt Collection Practices Prohibited Under Arizona Law
Before you report or sue a creditor, you must know exactly what debt collection practices are prohibited under the law. Your creditor can still call you on a daily basis without the practice necessarily being considered abusive. Here is what the law prohibits:
- Pretending to be a legal authority or a law enforcement agency in order to collect a debt
- Sending any documents or written communication that imitates a court, government, or a legal document
- Pretending to be a lawyer or have a law office without being a licensed attorney in the state
- Attempting to collect fees that are not related to the debt, such as collection fees, legal fees, court fees, and so on
- Tell you that if you don’t pay the debt, you will have to pay additional fees for investigations, services, lawyers or anything else
- Lying to you about the amount of existing debt
- Giving the impression that any lawful or government agency in Arizona backs the creditor
- Use verbally abusive language in collection calls
- Continue to contact you after you have sent a written request not to
Some other abusive practices, such as physical threats, are also prohibited. Contact your lawyer if you don’t see the tactics that are being used against you by a collection agency in the above list.
It’s important to keep in mind that suing the creditor for illegal collection practices does not “erase” the debt. You will have to go to bankruptcy court to have at least some of your debt forgiven.