Did you know the number one complaint Federal Consumer Agencies get is about debt collectors? But there's a very strict law that governs what they're allowed to do. So strict, you may 'want' them to call.
"L.A. County will issue you with a warrant for your arrest," said one debt collector to a consumer .
“Do you want to take care of this voluntarily or should I recommend forceful recovery?" said another.
Some of them lie.
Others make threats.
They're just a few of the things debt collectors say to make people pay their bills.
And just some of the ways they're breaking the law.
"We eliminated debtor’s prisons in this country two hundred years ago," says Consumer Attorney Marc Dann.
Dann not only represents people harassed by collectors, but sues companies for violating that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
"It prohibits somebody from trying to collect a debt from saying anything that’s not true," he said.
Things included are:
- Falsely claiming they're lawyers or government officials.
- That they can have you arrested.
There are also laws on making contact with you.
They can't reach out to you:
- Before 8am or after 9pm
- If you tell them to stop calling
- And they can't discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney.
They also can't curse or threaten to hurt you
And if they do any of these things, you can sue!
But something that can really work in your favor, is the collector has to prove you owe the money. And often they can't.
If a bill is really old, businesses, often credit card companies, will sell that debt to another company.
"So when the time comes to try and collect, the person that's trying to collect from you may not have the original credit card contract you had, might not have the statements, may not have anything,” Dann says.
Which means they're out of luck.
I’ve been told that if a collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and you call them out on it, they will often stop calling. If they don’t, contact an attorney, and that debt collector may end up having to pay you.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Where to Complain