Have you ever wondered how Collection Agency Laws actually affect the way that Debt Collection Agencies conduct their business? I do, as I was recently contacted by a collection agency regarding a debt that I supposedly owed. And here’s the really bad part – I didn’t owe anything because I was a victim of identity theft. Funny, but I had never even worried or cared about collection law because my credit had always been very good, if not perfect. Enter my nightmare.
Not only did I have to deal with the major process of filling reports with the state Attorney General, local authorities, and credit reporting agencies, but I had to deal with this very persistent collection agency. Unfortunately, as I quickly found out, there are many times when an unscrupulous debt collector will try to circumvent the law in order to collect on a debt that you may or may not owe. Fortunately for people like you and I, there are laws in place to help protect us.
In all fairness, the collection agency had simply been given my overdue account (actually, some unknown scumbag’s account), and were simply doing their job. I completely understood what they were doing, but even after I explained my situation to them they still kept sending me letters and calling me at all hours of the day. They informed me that I would need to send them some sort of proof that it was not me on the account and that I was, indeed, a victim of identity fraud. What a complete and time consuming hassle that was — and is fodder for a completely different article.
As I continued to research The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which is a United States statute that protects the consumer from unfair and abusive practices regarding the collection of a debt, I quickly realized that this particular collection agency was violating many of the laws as set forth by the above agency. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also goes hand in hand with the FDCPA, and I would strongly suggest that you, as a consumer, read the above mentioned statutes. Simply go online like I did and search using the keywords. You’ll find a ton of great articles and information about the subject.
For instance, did you know that the FDCPA has issued guidelines under which debt collectors conduct their business? That’s right. Some of these “rules'” include the hours that you may be contacted, trying to communicate with you while you’re at your place of employment, misrepresentation or deceit, publishing your name on a “bad debt” list, and so on.
Here are a few examples of what this particular collection agency was doing to me, and how they were in violation of the law:
1. They were calling me before and after the designated hours defined by law. They can only call during reasonable hours. I once received a call at 6:15 in the morning. On a Sunday!
2. They were in the habit of calling me at my place of business. They can’t do this if you tell them to stop.
3. The individuals representing their company were threatening me with a wage garnishment and a bank levy. Not! They can only do this if the original creditor had obtained a judgment against me. And in some states, these procedures are not allowed.
4. They told me that they were going to discuss the situation with my boss. They cannot discuss debts with people who have nothing to do with them.
5. They called my family members and did their best to pry information out of them. They can call and try to find out my physical location, but they cannot mention that they are collecting a debt.
The above is not a complete list by any means. As I continued to research the laws, I discovered that they were in violation of all five of the above listed methods of collection. My non-legal advise to you, if you ever encounter a situation involving debt like I did, is play hardball. Be strong but firm, document/record everything, and inform them that they are in direct violation of collection law and can be sued for their constant harassment.
There are plenty of hungry lawyers out there that love to sue collection agencies whore in violation of the law. Contact an attorney or the Federal Trade Commission (who enforces the FDCPA), and take action against those that are breaking the law. Life is too short to have to put up with this sort of funny business.