Debt Collectors – and Illegal Debt Collection Practices they Employ

Jul 18, 2010

you in a position of being unable to meet your obligations. If so, you’re not alone.

Thousands of others are in the boat with you.

Even if you’ve always paid your bills on time, the current economic situation may have

Unfortunately, when you fall behind on credit card bills, debt collectors will begin to call.

The calls from your actual creditor will probably be fairly friendly. They’ll offer to help you set up a repayment plan, and may even offer to settle the debt for a lesser amount if you can pay it off in a lump sum.

You have to wonder how they think you can come up with a lump sum if you couldn’t manage a monthly payment, but it’s their job to ask.

Most of the time your original creditor won’t take legal action against you. They’ll either sell your account to a third party, or turn it over to a collection agency or an attorney. And this is the group that’s likely to become abusive.

They’ll begin with phone calls and threats of legal action – and could proceed to get a judgment against you. Depending upon your State laws they can garnish your wages, drain your bank accounts, or place a lien on your property.

Note that they are not allowed to touch a bank account if all the funds in the account come from Social Security Retirement or Disability, or Veteran’s Disability.

Although there are strict regulations, such as rules preventing them from calling you at work, talking to your neighbors about your situation, or calling you between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., some of them will do it.

Some have been known to threaten bodily harm, jail time, deportation, or loss of child custody. These threats are false and illegal, as is the use of profanity.

If you are subjected to such calls, you can and should take action against them by reporting them to the Federal Trade Commission or the State Attorney General. Act quickly to get their names and contact information, because fraud and harassment are criminal offenses.

Even worse is when these practices are employed by bogus debt collectors. They use them to try to extract money that you don’t even owe. These could be debts that were discharged in bankruptcy or debts that have passed the statute of limitations in your state. But they search public records to find them, in hopes that they can scare you into paying.

Some debt collectors will even attempt to collect monies owed by deceased relatives – either by preying on your sense of loyalty to the deceased or by falsely claiming that you “inherited” the debt.

Do report them.

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