A Good Example of A Bad Debt Collector

By glblguy

Coming for you
Photo by: mugley

The following is a guest post by Cindy from Oh My Aching Debts, where she blogs about surviving the tough times, getting out of debt, and saving money. If you like this post, consider subscribing to her RSS feed.

Having written a great deal on dealing with debt collectors and negotiating debt settlements, this story by Fox in Philadelphia caught my eye. “Debt Collector Says She Is Coming For You” is an interview with a six figure salary collection agent who loves her job and a look at what these calls do to the lives of the people who receive them.In the interview the woman gloats about insulting people to their wives, neighbors, employers as well as to themselves. She is good at what she does because she is good at intimidating people and scaring them. It works because people like you and I don’t know our rights.

I want to stress that what this woman is doing is illegal. Her employer could be subject to a $1000 fine for every infraction of the law that this woman is intentionally doing according to the Fair Debt Collections Act. I have recently heard of a case where a collection agency was fined over a million dollars for their actions.

Illegal Collection Practices

  • It is illegal to threaten you.
  • It is illegal to harass you (insulting you, calling you names, etc)
  • It is illegal to call your neighbors, family or references except to get a contact number for you.
  • It is illegal to tell your employer anything.
  • It is illegal to call you at work if you tell them not to do so.
  • It is illegal to call you before 8 am or after 9 pm.
  • It is illegal to threaten you with legal action unless they are going to proceed with it.
  • It is illegal for them to even call you if you request in writing that they stop.

If you are being harassed by a collection agency, learn what your rights are by reading this brochure by the Federal Trade Commission

What to Do If This Happens To You

  • Stop taking their phone calls.
  • Make notes of everything they have said and to whom they said it.
  • Send a cease and desist letter by certified, return receipt requested mail.
  • If they have been blatantly harassing you, contact an attorney or your state attorney general’s office or call the FTCs Help line at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
  • Find out what the statute of limitations for your state is as they cannot sue you if it has expired. The clock starts running when you went into default NOT when the collection agency bought the debt.
  • Send them a letter requesting written proof that you owe the debt. Again, by certified, return receipt requested.
  • If they cannot provide proof then they cannot continue to try to collect or report it on your credit report.
  • If they continue to harass you, then you can file a small claims suit against them. You don’t need an attorney to do this and you can win.

I fully believe that we should all pay our debts but I also believe that when a collection agent wants to play hard ball, we need to play back on their terms. They are knowingly defying the laws that were written to protect us. The solution is to use those laws to fight back.

13 Responses (including trackbacks) to “A Good Example of A Bad Debt Collector”

  1. "Mo" Money Says:

    Good post, people need to know that they have rights and need to know what they are. The FTC came up with their act because the collectors were ruthless in the way they tried to collect debts. I agree with the author we should pay our debts, but if circumstances don’t allow, we have our rights.

  2. Pension Says:

    As consumers we need to know our rights in order to not be pushed around, however we do need to pay our debts.

  3. Mrs. Micah Says:

    Indeed. There’s a difference between paying our debts and being treated illegally. There are legal ways to get the money.

  4. MITBeta @ Don't Feed The Alligators Says:

    Ah… so this is what schoolyard bullies grow up to be…

  5. Make Friends, Earn Money Says:

    I have to say that I’m not a big fan of debt collectors, I think that most are motivated by money or they wouldn’t be doing their job. I also think that you make some excellent points about how they can cross the line.

  6. Living Off Dividends & Passive Income Says:

    her site seems down!

  7. Shanti @ Antishay Says:

    This is an AWESOME post. It’s true, most people don’t know their rights, and I hope this post circulates enough to educate some people about where to draw the line. Debt collectors make me sick, the things that they do sometimes. Thanks again for this great resource.

  8. Robert Pane Says:

    Get their information, corporate name, address and take them to small claims courts. Use http://www.civiltree.com for more information on these types of actions. I am currently pending my trial date.

  9. Chad Says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. I watched that interview, and it had me fuming, so I had to put in my two cents. Typical debt collection trash. I guess she got the job for two reasons. First, it’s more lucrative than staying in the ghetto (where she seems to come from) and collecting welfare. Secondly, she couldn’t get a job anywhere else, even McDonald’s. Not with the people “skills” she possesses. “Ms. Scrooge” and her ilk deserve to be strung up by their ears. Her type makes me physically ill. Okay, time to stop ranting before I get violently angry.

  10. C Edwards Says:

    This is a great post and I hope many people read it to learn how to protect themselves against illegal collection tactics.

    There is one small area where I disagree with the points made. This is where it stated: “Find out what the statute of limitations for your state is as they cannot sue you if it has expired.”

    A collector can sue even if the statue of limitations has expired and if the debtor does not respond or point out to the court that is has expired, the debtor may have the judgment go against them. In other words, in such a situation, it is the debtors obligation to bring the statute expiration to the attention of the collector and the court.

    Again, great information here.

  11. Libby Says:

    I just got a call from my 8 year old daughter…she was at home with her older brother and even though they are not supposed to answer the phone…they did. What they got was an earful from a gas station we accidentally wrote a bad check to. They told my 8 year old…your daddy needs to pay this by tonight or I am sending the bounced check to the Sherrif’s department tomorrow morning and he will get in big big trouble…
    I didn’t think it was legal to leave anything but a call back number if it was a collection call if you weren’t speaking directly to the person who incurred the debt. I also noticed that this gas station posts copies of unpaid insufficent checks under a piece of pexiglass on its front counter next to the cash register. I thought this was illegal too.
    I called the number he so graciously left with my kids and he has agreed to hold the check until next 11:30 am next Wednesday when we plan to be through that area again. But when I told him that his collection practices were not legal he told me to drop it or he would send the NSF check to the sherriff tomorrow, so I dropped it in order to buy more time. IF anyone has any advice…I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks!