Debt Collectors Gone Wild - Aggressive Collection Tactics
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Debt Collectors Gone Wild


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, 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:

  • Making harassing phone calls
  • Using abusive language
  • Threatening physical violence

The results of consumer surveys tell an unsettling tale:

  • Complaints of harassment from debt collectors jumped 50 percent to a total of 67, 500 in 2009, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Complaints are expected to rise another 13 percent this year, based on the number of complaints received by the FTC in the first half of this year.
  • Complaints of debt collectors using abusive or obscene language over the phone rose by 35 percent last year.
  • The primary complaint by consumers is repeated calls. Sources indicate that it is fairly common for debt collectors to make several calls during a single day.
  • Complaints of debt collectors threatening to use violence or actually using physical intimidation more than doubled in 2009, rising to a total of 2,517.

In addition to these alarming figures, there are several other aggressive tactics that are growing more common. These include:

  • Calls at obnoxiously early or late hours
  • Demands for more money than what is owed
  • Telling employers or third parties about your debt
  • Hollow threats of jail time, prosecution, property seizure

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.

What To Do If You Have a Legitimate Complaint Against Debt Collector

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.

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