Debt Collector Harassment: Four Illegal and Bogus Collection Tactics You Should Know About
Even though the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 80,000 complaints last year concerning debt collectors and unfair practices, its largely believed that only a small percentage of debt collector violations are actually reported by consumers. And while most debt collectors stay well within the boundaries defined by the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), there are others who use illegal tactics including threats and intimidation to collect a debt. It’s important that consumers, who may be behind on their bills, know that debt collector harassment comes in various forms from intimidation to use of obscene or profane language-all being illegal.
It’s even more important to provide examples of some common bogus and illegal debt collection practices. Below are four illegal and bogus tactics that some debt collectors use:
1. “You’re Wages Will Be Garnished To Recover This Debt”: Unless a debt collector has legal authority to do so, they can not threaten legal action; third party collection agencies have no legal authority. In addition, the only way your wages can be garnished by a creditor is if a creditor has a won a judgment against you.
2. “You Better Pay Up Today Because We Know Where You Live”: It may be hard to believe but more than 300 FTC complaints last year were made by consumers citing threats of violence. Even implying physical harm to collect a debt is illegal.
3. Discussing Debts With Neighbors, Relatives and Employers: Debt collectors frequently call relatives and even employers to obtain information about debtors. Verifying addresses or even contact information keeps debt collectors safe in the realm of fair debt collection practices, however discussing the debt or even hinting they are calling about a debt is illegal.
4. “We Are Going To Issue a Warrant for Your Arrest If You Don’t Pay This Bill”: Failure to satisfy a debt is a civil matter, not a criminal one. Any debt collector who states you will go to jail for not paying a bill is breaking the rules pursuant to The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA).
There are many more debt collector harassment techniques including the use of intimidation of which consumers should be aware. It’s important that consumers know their rights as described under The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) and stop debt collectors, who engage in illegal debt collection practices, in their tracks.