A Good Example of A Bad Debt Collector
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.