Understanding the Rights and Limitations of Creditors
Sept. 12, 2023
Under both federal and state laws, creditors, third-party collection agencies, and debt collectors are permitted to contact and interact reasonably with debtors in order to recover outstanding debts. In addition, these federal and state statutes outline the limits regarding what creditors can do, including when and how they can contract debtors.
If you're exploring your debt relief options, it’s important to consult with a Tennessee creditor harassment attorney who can help you move forward. At Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law, I have devoted my career to offering experienced legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in financial relief and bankruptcy-related matters.
As your lawyer, I can work to understand your personal situation, explore your options to achieve debt relief, and fully explain what creditors are allowed or prohibited from doing when collecting debts. I proudly serve individuals across Kingsport, Church Hill, Bristol, Johnson City, or anywhere in Northeastern Tennessee. Set up a consultation today.
Consumer Rights Laws
In Tennessee and across the United States, various consumer rights laws have been established to protect consumers from unethical and deceptive business practices, defective products and services, as well as fraud. Here are some consumer rights laws you should know:
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors, creditors, and third-party collection agencies from trying to recover unpaid debts from debtors using misleading representation, false, harassing, unfair, abusive, or deceptive techniques.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law designed to help ensure accuracy and fairness and to safeguard the privacy of consumer information gathered by reporting agencies. The FCRA regulates various methods used by credit reporting agencies to access, gather, share, or use consumer information available in their credit or financial reports.
Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
According to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the following unfair or deceptive acts or practices that affect the conduct of any commerce or trade are prohibited:
Falsely passing off goods and services as those of another.
Causing possible misunderstandings with the sponsorship, source, certification, or approval of goods and services.
Misrepresenting goods and services.
Disparaging another business's goods and services through misleading representation.
Advertising goods and services with no intent to sell as advertised.
Making misleading statements about the reason or amount of price reduction.
Offering participation in pyramid or Ponzi schemes.
Discriminating against disabled individuals.
A dedicated consumer protection lawyer can help you understand the actions that creditors are prohibited from doing and advocate for your best interests.
Actions That Must Be Avoided When Collecting Debt
Under the FDCPA and applicable Tennessee state laws, debt collectors and creditors are prohibited from any of the following acts when recovering debts or during their interactions with debtors:
Harassing debtors with continuous emails, demand letters, calls, or texts.
Threatening to arrest the debtor.
Misrepresenting or using false statements.
Contacting or calling the debtor at unusual places or times.
Shaming or publicly disrespecting debtors into paying debts.
Issuing threats of violence against the debtor.
Pretending to work for a government or public agency.
Interacting with the debtor in an irrational manner.
Instead of calling the debtor directly, the creditor can contact the debtor's lawyer, file a lawsuit against them, or explore other legal options to recover debts.
Filing a Lawsuit
According to Tennessee laws, creditors are entitled to bring a civil action against a debtor in order to pursue a court judgment to collect unpaid debts. If successful, the creditor can garnish:
25% of your disposable weekly income, or
The amount by which your disposable weekly earnings are greater than 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage, whichever is less.
The creditor may be able to pursue a judgment lien or court order that places a lien on the debtor's assets, home, or other personal property. With this, the debtor can foreclose or force the property sale, and the net proceeds will be used to pay back the outstanding balance.
Bankruptcy’s Effects on Creditor's Rights
One option to stop continuous creditor calls or harassment is filing for bankruptcy. When you file your bankruptcy petition, an "automatic stay" order will go into effect. This prohibits creditors from harassing or contacting you. In addition, the debt collector will be unable to garnish your wages, repossess your property, or file a lawsuit against you to collect unpaid debts.
Recourse Options When Creditors Aren't Respecting Discharge
If the creditor disobeys the automatic stay order, continues to harass or call you, or violates your bankruptcy discharge, you need to document the harassment and notify your bankruptcy attorney immediately. Your legal counsel can take necessary action against the non-compliant creditor and help you pursue a path forward.
Let My Experience Guide You
When overwhelmed with debts, filing for bankruptcy can help you achieve financial relief and stop endless creditor calls or harassment. I'm ready to guide clients through the complex procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy. Furthermore, I can help determine the right type of bankruptcy for you, help file your case, and negotiate a feasible repayment resolution with your creditor.
Contact me at Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law to schedule a simple case assessment. My firm proudly serves clients throughout the entire state of Tennessee, including Kingsport, Church Hill, Bristol, and Johnson City.