There is a case where a debt collector for a finance company came to the house of a person who owed them money and told him that he may lose his furniture if he doesn’t pay up. The finance company representative then took out a clipboard and wrote down what items were in his house. That was 40 years ago and the laws have changed since then.
However, that does not mean that some debt collectors will not use unorthodox or even illegal methods to get their money back from you. In addition, some might even be calls from scammers. In a case in 2014, a consumer owed money to a local gym. The gym then proceeded to give the account to a collection agency who followed up and started calling her. The consumer then went to the gym and paid the remaining payments off. A couple of days later, she received numerous calls from the collection agency. She told them that the gym was paid off but they wouldn’t listen and continued to harass her. The woman called the manager at the gym who then called the agency. The result was that the owner of the agency called the consumer back and apologized stating that she was on vacation and didn’t know that the debt was paid off. Needless to say, this certainly gives the impression of incompetence upon the part of the agency or even worse, the possibility that they did know but continued to call in the hope that they would get paid.
This is just one of many ‘schemes’ that you may be subjected to when you owe money. Granted, most, most of the banks and well known retail stores are honest and stick to the laws, but that does not mean you should let your guard down. Mistakes do happen as well.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A federal protection agency designed to protect consumers from “unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law”. “… consumers often faced calls that came too often, at odd hours and contained warnings of jail time and other threats. Some were contacted for debts they didn’t owe. And many said when they asked the collector to stop contacting them, the request was ignored.”
You Are Protected
Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you feel that you have been wrongfully contacted, you can contact the FTC and make a full complaint.
Know Your Rights
- Collection agencies can contact you via email, phone, US mail or by text message, but most adhere to the rules below.
- Any debt collector who calls you MUST identify themselves as such and cannot by law state they are from anywhere else. That includes the federal government.
- If you send them a certified letter stating that they cannot contact you, they must adhere to that letter.
- Collection agencies cannot abuse you or threaten you with violence. They cannot use obscene language either.
- They can only talk to you about your debt. They cannot discuss with any other party unless you give them permission.
- Debt collectors cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on any given day, but they are allowed to call you on weekends.
- Federal law doesn’t give a specific limit on the number of calls a debt collector can place to you. A debt collector may not call you repeatedly or continuously intending to annoy, abuse, or harass you or others who share the number.
What Should I Do If a Debt Collector Calls Me?
Everyone’s situation is different, but if you follow up with them in the recommended manner, it may help resolve the situation or at least keep you in control of it.