What consumer protection law is about as old as the arcade game Pong and nearly as antiquated? The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — the law that governs what’s become a multi-billion-dollar financial industry segment made up of companies that chase past-due debts from an estimated one in 10 Americans. When the FDCPA was put… Read More
My daughter is only 12, but she already knows a lot about dealing with debt collectors. Several times a week she gets debt collection calls for the person who previously had her cell phone number. Some of the callers are polite and tell her they will remove her number from their records. In other cases,… Read More
Every year, the Federal Trade Commission makes a report to Congress describing the debt collection complaints they received.
A major debt collection agency that employs 1500 debt collectors who try to collect on some 24 million past due accounts, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $2.8 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its aggressive collection techniques violated federal law. The FTC alleged that West Asset Management, Inc. violated the… Read More
Talk about an uncomfortable situation. A reader recently contacted us about a message she found on her answering machine. The recorded message was regarding a collection for her father who does not live with her: Dear Gerri, I’m very concerned that a debt collector may have broken the law. Long story short, I recently received… Read More
The Los Angeles Better Business Bureau has been flooded with complaints about a debt collection agency they rate as an “F,” according to a recent article in the Ventura County Star. The company, Commercial Investigations Inc., is located in Van Nuys, CA.
Though you may not receive any feedback from the FTC they will listen. It is their job to ensure that debt collectors comply with the FDCPA. In fact every year they are required to report to Congress on the steps they have taken to curtail illegal debt collection practices and on the types of complaints they receive. Here is a summary of the 66,627 complaints received by the FTC in 2005 that are considered violations of third-party collectors. Many consumers never complain, while others complain about activities that do not violate any law.
Whether you live in a community property state like California, or an equitable distribution state like Pennsylvania, debt collectors are not permitted to contact your spouse to discuss the terms of your account, or negotiate the payment of your individual credit card account. Collectors may contact other people, one time only, to find out where you live, work and what your phone number is, but they are not permitted to attempt to discuss your debt or collect it from anyone who is not otherwise legally obligated to pay your debt. (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – 15 U.S.C. §1692c(b).)
Even the most careful consumer can occasionally find themselves dealing with a collection agency. Overdue magazine subscriptions, parking tickets, video store late fees, library fines, medical bills and more can all be sold to collection agencies. To make matters worse, collection records are extremely damaging to credit scores and will remain on credit reports for 7 years whether or not the account is later paid.