Collecting debts (by calling, mailing letters or docking paychecks via court orders) is surely a difficult task for those who must perform the task, but most indebted consumers expect to be treated with a minimum amount of civility.
Unfortunately, according to a recent report from CNNMoney.com, debt collectors are increasingly resorting to aggressive tactics.
According to Robert Andrews, a senior analyst working on debt issues for research firm IBISWorld, “The American consumer is really hurting and collectors are having to fight harder to get money.”
Consumer surveys indicate that debt collectors are, even though they may be breaking the law, more frequently:
The results of consumer surveys tell an unsettling tale:
In addition to these alarming figures, there are several other aggressive tactics that are growing more common. These include:
In many cases, these tactics aren't just annoying: They're illegal.All the unsettling tactics listed above were made illegal under the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Thus, if you have been the victim of such inappropriate debt collection tactics, know that the treatment you are receiving may very well be illegal, if not wildly inappropriate.
If you have received abusive treatment from a debt collector, the FTC says that you can take a debt collector to federal or state court. If you win the case, the wayward debt collector is required to pay for any damages caused by his or her treatment, including lost income or medical bills.
Even if you are unable to prove that you have lost anything, reports indicate that you may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 or recover attorney fees. Of course, such recovery is contingent on the merits of your claim.
It's also important to remember the Automatic Stay is designed to instantly stop all collection efforts. It typically kicks in when you file bankruptcy. This court order bans all collection efforts, including phone calls and the threats that come with them. If a creditor contacts you after the automatic stay kicks they could face additional penalties, and you may be able to take separate legal action against them.