But that’s what can typically happen, amongst other indiscretions on the part of debt collectors who will stop at nothing in an effort to intimidate. This, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created through the adoption of the Dodd-Frank Act as a means to protect consumers from abuse.
There is plenty of abuse, according to the CFPB’s spring report. And the latter, for the first time, is shifting its focus away from the banking industry and peering instead into the underbelly of debt collection - the private firms and other non-bank institutions that more often than not circumvent good manners and fairness in an effort to collect debts that may not even be current.
“For the first time at the federal level, nonbank financial institutions are subject to supervisory oversight that holds them accountable for how they treat consumers,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement earlier this month.
“The CFPB’s oversight of banks and nonbanks alike is exposing risky practices and getting results for consumers.”
Among the examples of bill collector harassment found were the placement of excessive calls to consumers outside the mandated window of 8 am to 9 pm. Calling outside those parameters to pester people who owe money is illegal. You’re also not allowed to call people at their place of business.
However, such rules governing debt collector harassment did not stop one firm from making no fewer than 17,000 illegal phone calls, according to the CFPB report. Other examples of abuse included actual visits to workplaces, which is also a definite no-no.
What makes bill collector harassment even more aggravating is the fact that debts are often sold off like so much inventory, for pennies on the dollar. The new “owner” of the debt will then proceed to go to the ends of the earth in order to collect a debt that a) may have already been paid, or b) may never have existed at all under the name and the address the collector has been provided. That’s because information is often watered down and data misconstrued when transferred between operators.
Bogus lawsuits filed by debt collectors against Americans who allegedly owe money are usually dropped once the consumer has reached out in contact. That’s because in the majority of cases lawsuits are filed as a simple form of harassment, without the necessary documentation to back that lawsuit up. In truth, the collection agency would not have been in a position to proceed, anyway.
Consumers will often turn the tables on such shenanigans by launching a debt collector lawsuit against the very collector that tried to sue the consumer. Only this time, the consumer has the law on their side. There is a basket of protections available to the consumer who has been abused at the hands of a debt collector, and the consumer is usually in the driver’s seat. A debt collector harassment attorney can advise and guide the consumer accordingly, on a path to redress and eventual compensation.
Debt collector harassment is a form of bullying
In a related story, a federal court put a temporary halt on all collection efforts by a national network of debt collectors accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of bullying consumers into paying.
No fewer than 13 separate collection agencies - owned by just two people - were accused of having “regularly contacted consumers via repeated telephone calls and have threatened (them) with dire consequences, including arrest, if (they) failed to make immediate payments,” according to the FTC complaint filed in US District Court in Buffalo earlier this year.
According to a report in the Denver Post (3/5/14), it was unclear if some of the debts in question were bogus. However, the complaint nonetheless indicated that some of the debts being chased utilizing bullying tactics had either expired, were no longer valid or simply were not collectable.
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That hasn’t stopped debt collectors with a definitive mean streak from calling consumers with threats of arrest, lawsuits or other harms if they don’t pay up. The Denver Post report suggests that some consumers paid simply to stop the debt collector harassment.
That’s just not right. A bill collector lawsuit, against the bill collector allegedly engaged in harassment, is often a justified response.