How To Fight Back Against Debt Collectors Shaming Tactics

15 U.S.C. Sections 1692d(3) and 1692d(4) prohibit debt collectors from trying to shame or embarrass consumers who owe debt. The law says that the following are against the law:

The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts;


The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt.

Can a Debt Collector Humiliate Me Online or in Print?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is designed to prohibit debt collectors from harassing consumers. Humiliation is a form of harassment. One section of the law (15 U.S.C. Section 1692d(3)) addresses publishing lists of people who owe money. For example, a debt collector can’t post a “deadbeat list” or “shame list” in the collection agency’s window. In addition, they can’t publish in a local newspaper a list of those from whom they’re trying to collect. Intuitively, it makes sense that a consumer protection law would prohibit these activities.

Courts have interpreted this section of the law a bit more broadly. They have ruled that debt collectors can’t report a consumer to creditors that subscribe to a debt collection agency’s mailing list. Their rationale is that not every creditor has a legitimate business need for the information, and that sharing such information is tantamount to publishing a “deadbeat list.”

Courts have also ruled that it is a violation of this section – as well as other sections – of the FDCPA for a debt collector to send a letter to your place of employment.

The next subsection of the FDCPA (15 U.S.C. Section 1692d(4)) prohibits listing consumers’ names when selling debts. Creditors often sell packages of debts to debt buyers, which pay pennies on the dollar and then attempt to collect as much of the debt as possible from the consumer. When a debt buyer has finished their collection efforts, they may bundle the leftover accounts and resell them to another debt buyer. If the debt buyer includes consumers’ names when advertising debts for sale, that would have the impact of shaming or embarrassing the consumer. Engaging in debt collection behavior that harasses, oppresses, or abuses a consumer is explicitly prohibited by the FDCPA.

Can a Debt Collector Ever Include My Name in a List of People Who Owe Debt?

15 U.S.C. Section 1692d(3) lists an exception to the rule forbidding debt collection agencies from publishing lists of consumers who owe debts. A debt collection agency is allowed to forward your name to a credit reporting agency, commonly known as a credit bureau. The best-known credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The credit bureaus use that information to evaluate creditworthiness and to prepare consumer credit reports.

How Do I Fight Back if Debt Collectors Try to Shame Me?

If a debt collector publishes your name, posts it online, or shares your information with a person unauthorized by law, you have rights. Under the FDCPA, you have the right to sue the debt collector and recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages. Because the law requires the debt collection agency to pay your attorney fees, legal representation should be free to you. If you’ve been embarrassed or shamed by a debt collector, you can and should fight back.

Lemberg Law attorneys protect consumers from abusive debt collection agencies. If you are receiving unwanted collection calls at work, then you could have a case against the collection agency. Contact Lemberg Law at 844-685-9200 ☎ or complete our online form for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

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