According to Detroit Free Press (6/17/14), Lisa Ratliff regularly paid her Kohl’s bill, but when she owed $20 on her Kohl’s account, she started receiving both automated and live operator phone calls, repeatedly. Despite her request that they stop calling, the phone calls continued. The lawsuit alleges Ratliff received 22 phone calls in one week.
Ratliff says she had every intention of paying the $20 bill, but the phone calls, which started in November 2013, kept coming. Her $20 bill is now up to $100 in fees and interest, but that amount is minor compared to the damages Ratliff could be awarded in court.
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a collector can be charged $500 per call or up to $1,500 per call if they knowingly broke the law. Under the law, it is illegal to call a consumer’s cell phone or use a prerecorded voice without the consumer’s permission.
Kohl’s has the right to collect on its debt, but it has to collect on its debt within the law. There are rules about how and when debt collectors can contact consumers. These rules include not calling before 8 am or after 9 pm, not harassing consumers and not calling the consumer’s employer.
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Complaints involved original creditors, such as banks and companies, and third-party debt collectors. In addition to complaints about being harassed for debts they did not owe, consumers reportedly filed complaints concerning aggressive communications tactics and taking or threatening an illegal action.
According to the CFPB, there are more than 4,500 debt collection firms across the US. The CFPB has taken regulatory action against debt collectors who collected money on loans that were invalid. Meanwhile, consumers have filed lawsuits of their own, alleging illegal practices on the part of original creditors and debt collectors.