Fair Debt Collection – Thwarting Abusive Collections Tactics

Against the backdrop of the recent recession, many people, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves in situations where they cannot afford to pay their bills. This all-too-familiar scenario has created a surge in consumer collection accounts as well as a rising number of complaints about overly aggressive bill collectors and their abusive tactics.

In March of 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a Congressional report that demonstrated that in 2010 there was a 17 percent rise in the number of complaints involving consumer debt collection. Moreover, complaints about third-party bill collectors rose by a stark 25 percent. Overall, in 2010, consumer complaints about abusive and unlawful debt collection practices superseded every other compliant category except for identify theft. Perhaps not surprising because of easy access, the most frequent occurring complaint about these debt recovery agencies was telephone harassment of the debtor. Other complaints included the misrepresentation of amounts owed, demanding unlawful fees, contacting the consumer during prohibited times and more.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices ACT (FDCPA) is a component of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). The FDCPA contains a list of federal restrictions that protects a consumer’s privacy as well as shields an individual from a debt collector’s abusive or harassing behavior. These limitations prevents a bill collector from calling at odd hours, contacting neighbors, friends or family about your debts, or making threats, and provides other protections designed to enforce consumer rights. The FTC’s report illustrates that despite the FDCPA, many collections agencies are creating much angst for consumers by engaging in unlawful and dubious debt recovery tactics.

Clearly, the recession has caused an influx of bad consumer debt. This increase could be the catalyst behind the surge in consumer complaints. However, some feel the debt recovery industry has problems that are more serious. They cite a high turnover rate and a poorly trained workforce as the core of the debt recovery industry’s problem.

Some bill collectors may willfully engage in vindictive and malicious behaviors designed to intentionally harm an individual’s credit report as well as hamper their credit repair efforts. This type of debt recovery agency engages in these illegal tactics against a debtor because most consumers are uninformed about the laws that govern debt collections and their rights. The best way to thwart an abusive bill collector’s efforts is for a consumer to be aware of their rights and be willing to take action against unlawful actions. For example, if a bill collector uses profanity, makes threats and calls during inappropriate hours, the bill collector may have violated the FDCPA. Moreover, if a collector can’t prove that they are the new owners of the debt or that they are bonded to collect in your state, that may violate the law as well. For more information, please visit the Debt Collections and Your Rights page on our website.

Consumers who feel intimidated, harassed or bullied by a debt collector’s abusive tactics, are encouraged to file a complaint with the FTC. Although the agency does not resolve individual complaints, they do use the information to build cases against debt recovery businesses that violate federal laws. Consumers can file complaints online at www.FTC.gov.

Lexington Law’s Concord level services will require the bureaus to uphold their statutory obligations to consumers with regard to fairness and accuracy of their credit reports. In addition, creditors and debt collectors must comply with several legal requirements in order to report your personal information to the credit bureaus. Our legal interventions are designed to protect your rights in this regard.