Debt collection agencies make a living out of convincing debtors to make good on past due debts. Often times, these agencies have purchased the bad debt from the original creditor at discount, hoping to make a profit by collecting the full past due amount. Other times, the collection agency will collect only a percentage of the debt collected while remitting the rest to the creditor.
Whatever the case may be, the collection agency will be out of business if they do not collect. With that being the case, the collection agency will fight long and hard to get their hands on the debtor’s money. Since debtors can be vulnerable, under stress, and susceptible to having that stress exploited, the means and methods of collection agencies are regulated by the government.
With all the various regulations proscribing and precluding various collections tactics, phone communications are not precluded. Collections agencies are free to contact debtors at home, on their cell phones, and even on their work phones in order to collect on past due debt.
But there are limits. First and foremost, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects debtors from verbal abuse, deception, harassment, among other things. The debtor has a right to complain about this type of collections activities to various entities.
Debtors are also entitled to force the collections agency into refraining from future telephonic contact. Debtors can tell credit collectors to stop calling. When they do, the collector must stop calling. Be sure, they will make many attempts to get you to pay before you exercise this right.
In fact, they use many tactics to scare you into paying before exercising your rights. Here are the top five phone tactics they will use that you should be aware of.
- Calling your friends, family and your neighbors. They can and will do this because it is not illegal when calling these people in order to ascertain your contact information. But the collector cannot repeatedly call these people unless they believe there is new information to learn.
The collector also cannot tell these people about your account details or the fact that you owe money and the amount of money owed.
- Calling before eight o’clock in the morning and or after nine o’clock in the evening is illegal. But they may bet you don’t know that. Calling off hours, so to speak, is meant to harass the debtor into paying the debt. Swearing, yelling, calling when they know it is intrusive, among other things are also examples of harassment. These things are illegal as well, but they are still used against debtors.
- Calling the debtor instead of the debtor’s attorney when they know the debtor is represented by counsel. Once they know the debtor has an attorney, and the collector has the attorney’s name and contact information, all contact with the debtor directly must stop.
- Threatening to have the debtor arrested, locked up, sued, and have wages garnished when none of the above can legally done to the debtor. This is done and it is improper and illegal. If the threat is something that the collector actually intends to have done and can also legally be done, then the collector is free to make the statement. The debtor can be sued, and garnishment can happen, but these things take a lot of time and only a court can order garnishment.
- Bogus debt collection agencies. Many collectors are not bona fide collection agencies. Phony collectors try to dupe the consumer into turning over personal information and bank account numbers to get at the debtor assets. If the collector does not identify him/herself, give the name of the collection company, the amount owed, and the creditor’s name/address, than chances are that the collector is bogus.
If you or anyone you know has been subjected to an abusive, deceptive, or unfair debt collection effort by any business or firm, contact the Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center for a FREE evaluation to learn how you can protect your rights and get your attorneys’ fees paid.