Things Not To Do When Collecting Your Judgment
Many state and federal laws have been enacted to prevent judgment debtors from being the victims of unfair debt collection practices. Most of these only apply to third party debt collection agencies; however, be reasonable when approaching and contacting the debtor. In order to avoid running afoul of any of these laws, you should use your best common sense. Trying to take revenge on a debtor or trying to make his/her life miserable may lead to liability for some of these laws.
Contacting a debtor over the phone is probably the easiest way for you to contact him or her about the debt. While collection agencies must cease contact with the debtor upon request, you, as the judgment creditor, do not have to. Even though you may be exempt from that law, do not harass the debtor.
Do identify yourself on the phone.
Do not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Do not call the debtor if you know he has a lawyer.
Do not call the debtor at work if he cannot receive phone calls at work.
Do not make repeated phone calls.
Do not pretend you are a different person.
Using excessive harassment on the debtor can be counterproductive. In extreme cases, the debtor could turn around and sue you!
Do not threaten the debtor with violence
Do not threaten to vandalize the debtor’s property
Do not threaten to hurt the debtor’s reputation
Do not use obscene language when talking to the debtor
Do not visit the debtor and refuse to leave when asked to
Do not use Deception when Contacting the Debtor
Misleading the debtor could make you liable for violating federal laws.
Do not claim to be a law enforcement officer.
Do not falsely represent the amount owed.
Do not claim to be a lawyer.
Do not claim that you are going to put a lien on the debtor’s property if you have no intention on doing so.
Do not claim that the debtor has violated the law.
Do not claim that you are going to a collection agency if you have no intention on doing so.
Do not forge legal documents.
Do not use false business names.
Do not claim to be from a collection agency.
Unfair Methods to Collect Debt
Do not include more interest on the debt than there should be.
Do not deposit post-dated checks prior to the date on the check.
Do not solicit a post-dated check.
Do not cause unnecessary phone charges by calling him with toll service numbers.
Contacting Third Parties
You cannot contact third parties about the debtor and his or her debt. There are a few exceptions to this rule:
Debtor’s credit bureau
Employer for wage garnishment
Commanding Officer, if in the military
If you need to contact a third party about location changes, do not state that you are collecting a debt. State that you are only interested in obtaining correct information about the whereabouts of the debtor. When mailing a letter to a debtor, make sure that all information is contained in a sealed envelope with “PERSONAL” written on the outside. Even though a person may owe you a debt, refrain from harassing and defaming them.