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States Warn About Debt Collector Harassment

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Milwaukee, WIAs more and more consumers file complaints about debt collector harassment, more states are getting involved, warning about bill collector harassment and other unethical tactics used by debt collectors. Debt collector lawsuits have been filed against unscrupulous bill collectors, some of whom harass people who do not actually owe a debt.

Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions warned residents about shady debt collection practices. In a news release (8/21/13), the department noted that it has received more than 100 written complaints and on average several phone calls per day about unethical debt collectors who threaten jail if the consumer does not act immediately on a debt.

“The callers do not represent law enforcement and any threats of arrest or jail are bogus,” the department notes. In some cases, the debt collector is attempting to collect from a person who either does not owe money at all or does not owe money to the company doing the calling. Even in cases where a debt is legitimately owed, the company may be using illegal debt collection practices, including threats of arrest or seizure of private property, calling outside approved hours, or using threatening, harassing or violent language.

Debt collectors are not permitted to threaten arrest, threaten to tell a third party about your debt, or call before 8 am or after 9 pm. Despite rules prohibiting certain practices, however, debt collectors are routinely a source of extreme frustration for consumers and lawmakers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that it receives more complaints about debt collectors than it does about any other industry. The FTC is responsible for enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Act, which makes it illegal for debt collectors to use deceptive, unfair and abusive tactics to collect on debts. According to the FTC, the agency has sued more than 30 debt collection companies for violations of the law.

Among those was a lawsuit filed against Expert Global Solutions, described by the FTC as the world’s largest debt collection operation. That lawsuit resulted in a $3.2 million penalty charged to Expert Global Solutions, the largest penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a claim against a third-party debt collector, according to an FTC news release (7/9/13). The FTC filed its complaint accusing Expert Global Solutions of calling consumers multiple times in a day, ignoring requests to stop contact and calling outside normal hours.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

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I was in the Bahamas with a friend and was cohersed into purchasing some time of time share, I was not fully clear on the purchase since this was my first experience...and now I am receiving a bill sawing that I owe this money...

Posted by

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My wife and I are elderly and continue to receive "robo" phone calls with nobody there for collections for my son who hasn't lived here in three years. There isn't even someone on the line to tell them to STOP calling here (somtimes two and three a day)... It just goes on and on and on...

Posted by

on
I have a debt collector trying to collect a debt that has been forgiven, by the co. on my husband , who has passed away. The original co. has told me that they don't do business with this collector.

Posted by

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University of Phoenix online took over 2,000 dollars out of my husband's and mine income tax check about 5 years ago.. They harassed him and harassed him as he did not even take a full class.. He went online and they would not help him to get thru anything like they stated they would and so he did not finish and he told them he was quitting. this was back in around 2002 or so.. They harassed him and harassed him and threatened him if he did not pay it he would not be able to ever go to any college online.. He told them he did not go thru an entire class and had notified them within 2-3 weeks and they went and 5 years later they wiped it out of our tax check without notice... !! Please help thanks..

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