Ever since 1833, so-called debtors’ prison, or the practice of locking up people who owe debts, has been outlawed in the U.S. This means that debt collectors cannot threaten you with jail time for failing to pay back your debt. In fact, threatening jail can be considered a lie about escalation, which is forbidden by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If a debt collector threatens you with the prospect of jail or prison, you likely have a case for a lawsuit against them.
Sue the Collector has helped many clients whose rights have been trampled on by debt collection agencies who violated the FDCPA. Our attorneys have earned clients compensation such as $1,000 for harassment and $1,500 for each illegally-made robocall. Don’t let debt collectors intimidate you with false claims of imprisonment. Protect yourself by getting help from the team at Sue the Collector today.
We provide all potential clients with a FREE consultation to discuss the details of your case. At your consultation, we’ll go over your situation and show how we can provide you with the help you need to see justice served. Schedule an appointment today by filling out the form on our contact page or by calling our office directly at (866) 768-6005.
Consequences You May Face for Failing to Repay Debt
The debt collections process usually starts with the original creditor who sold you the loan or product for which you owe your debt. If you do not pay back the debt, they may decide to sell it off to a collector or agency. This agency will then begin to contact you for repayment. If you ignore these attempts, they will issue a court summons. Once you have received a summons, you have a few options:
- File an answer to the summons objecting to the amount you owe. (You must provide a reason for this dissent, such as already paying that amount.)
- Reach a repayment plan agreement with the collector.
When Jail Becomes a Possibility
While debt collectors cannot threaten jail, and you cannot be jailed for simply failing to repay your debt, there is a legal loophole that is sometimes used. If you ignore your court summons or the court rules in favor of the collector, that collector is able to file a Writ of Garnishment. Your employer will then legally have to send the collector up to 25% of your paycheck each pay period until your debt is paid back. This will be done with or without your consent.
However, sometimes, the court instead orders specific payment installments or additional court appearances. If you do not abide by the court’s rulings (for instance, failing to make the court-ordered payments), this can be seen as a form of contempt of court, which is a jailable offense.
So, while you cannot be jailed for your debt, you can end up in jail if you ignore court orders regarding your debt. Still, debt collectors are legally prohibited from threatening you with jail.
Your Rights Against Debt Collection Harassment
The FDCPA protects you from unfair debt collection practices. That includes, but is not limited to, being threatened with jail time. Other laws it sets in place include the following.
When They Can Call
Debt collectors cannot harass you with calls throughout the night, disturbing your sleep. They are only permitted to call you between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in your time zone.
What They Can Say
Debt collectors cannot:
- Lie about your debt status
- Lie about the amount you owe
- Use derogatory, racist, vulgar, or offensive language toward you
- Falsely threaten you with a lawsuit or with escalation
Who They Can Call
Finally, debt collectors are also limited by who they can call. If they already have your location information, they cannot hound your relatives or friends to find out where you are. Also, they cannot call you at work if they have been made aware that you are not permitted to receive personal phone calls there.
If You Were Threatened with Jail for Your Debt, You May Have Options for Compensation
Sue the Collector is dedicated to helping harassed and abused debtors get the compensation they deserve for the behavior they have suffered. It’s not just unpleasant for a debt collector to threaten you with jail time if you don’t pay your debt. It’s illegal! We may be able to help you file a lawsuit against them for significant compensation, protecting your rights and helping to prevent such behavior in the future.
If you believe that your rights have been violated by a debt collector, get in touch with our team as soon as possible. Call Sue the Collector at (866) 768-6005 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE consultation with our team. We’ll go over what we can do to help you right these wrongs.