Debt Collectors Are Scum: It’s The Truth!

Even David Ramsey, one of the “personal responsibility” gurus, thinks so:

 

 

 

Understandably, no one wants to hear from the debt collector and most collection activity is not viewed in a positive light. Having said that, debt collectors have earned their shoddy reputations and 90% of them violate the law with every call they make.

 

While there are clear rules about what collectors may and may  not do,  the government is ill equipped to enforce these rules. Because collection agents know this and because they know that the majority of debtors do not know their rights, they continue to violate the law with near-impunity. In fact, the best collectors (the ones who collect the most money) are the ones most likely to use questionable tactics.

Times are changing, however. More and more consumers are arming themselves with knowledge thanks to the power of the Internet, and are fighting back against abusive debt collectors. In 2009, there were 60% more lawsuits filed by consumers alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act than in 2008.

So, if you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to deal with debt collectors, for whatever reason, what are your rights and what can you do to protect yourself? The first step is to educate yourself on the laws that protect you. Since this website operates within the United States, I will be dealing mostly with United States laws and Canadian laws, since they’re both pretty similar.

The Federal law in the U.S. is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and in Canada it is called the the Consumer Protection Act. In addition, states and provinces have additional laws that protect consumers from unfair and harassing collection activities.

Basically, a collector may not:

1: Harass you by telephone. Harassment by telephone is defined as calling repeatedly many times in the same day.

2: Abuse you verbally or make threats of legal action where none is being contemplated or upon which the collector has no standing to initiate.

3: Threaten to do anything he cannot legally do, such as garnish your wages, where no court judgment exists, and where such garnishment may be illegal.

4: Call you at work when you have advised the collection agent that you can’t receive calls at work.

5: Contact you by telephone after you have advised him in writing that you do not wish further telephone contact.

If any collection agent does any of the above, then he has violated the law and he and his agency may be sued in Federal and/or state and provincial court. At the very least, you may file a complaint against them with their governing agency, which in the U.S. is the Federal Trade Commission and in Canada, it is the consumer protection agency in your province. A list is provided here.

If you decide to sue the collection company,  be sure to document every phone conversation you have, and keep copies of all written correspondence between you and the agency. You will need this documentation as proof. If you can arrange to record your telephone conversations, do so, but be aware of the laws in your state or province governing recording telephone calls.

There are online communities where help is available free of charge. Here are a few of them:

http://www.helpmanagemydebt.com/

http://www.helpfordebtors.com/

http://budhibbs.com/

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11 Responses to “Debt Collectors Are Scum: It’s The Truth!”

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