If you have incurred a significant amount of debt in recent years, you are not alone. During these tough economic times, many people have fallen behind on credit card bills, student loan payments, and even mortgage payments.
In these instances, you may be contacted by a debt collector seeking to recover the money you owe. Although debt collectors have the right to contact you about unpaid debts, they are required by law to do so “fairly.”
It seems as if debt collection agencies are some of the most disliked companies in the United States. This is not because consumers must pay them, but because of the tactics they sometimes use to collect debts. And while both state and federal governments have regulations that make many of these actions illegal, some collection agencies still regularly practice such activities.
With so much public scorn and a continued crackdown by authorities, people believed that collectors would stop using illegal tactics. However, this is often not the case, as some agencies continue to use harassment of various forms to collect debts. Why do they do this?
The best way to learn about your rights and options is to speak with Los Angeles consumer protection lawyer Howard Silver. Please call 818-597-2610 today to schedule a free consultation.
The Easy Way to Pay Off Your Debt
Many consumers want to pay in a way that collection agencies do not want. This may mean smaller payments than required or late payments. Collectors are required to inform consumers of the debt agreement and the agreed-upon penalties in a civil and regulated manner.
However, many agencies believe this will not change the actions of a debtor. As such, they will use intimidation tactics to force payment.
Collecting on Unqualified Debt
Some agencies, whether on purpose or by mistake, will buy debt from other agencies that has either been paid off or no longer qualifies for collection. When discovered, the agency may attempt to still collect on the debt. To prevent customers from realizing that they do not need to pay the debt or pressuring them to pay it when they know better, many unfair tactics such as threats of legal action and constant harassment will be used.
Reasons for Harassment for Debt Collection
Collection agents are typically paid by commission. They receive a percentage of the amount of money they collect. This unfortunately can cause agents to resort to illegal actions to coerce a consumer to pay a debt they do not owe.
Just because an agent is using wrongful and abusive tactics does not necessarily mean that he or she enjoys what is happening. Companies may pressure employees with threats of being fired, provide an environment that encourages unfair tactics, or offer financial incentives to the collector employee to pursue questionable debts.
Common Unfair Debt Collection Practices
According to the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), it is illegal for debt collectors to commit any of the following actions:
- Harass, abuse, or oppress a consumer they contact by using threats of harm or violence, publishing names of debtors, using profane language, or repeatedly and consistently calling the consumer (especially at inconvenient hours)
- Give false statements, such as claiming they are someone other than a debt collector, falsely claiming that the consumer has committed a crime, lying about the amount owed, or making false claims about whether documents are legal forms
- Tell the consumer that unless the debt is paid, they will be arrested, their wages or property will be seized or garnished when this is not legally permitted, or that legal action will be taken against them when there is no intention to follow through with these actions or it would be illegal to take legal action
- Give false credit information about you to anyone
- Send documents that look official, but aren’t
- Use a false company name
- Engage in unfair collection practices, such as trying to collect fees, interest, or other charges on top of the debt (unless allowed by terms of the contract or by law), deposit a post-dated check early, or contact the consumer by postcard
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed in order to prevent deceptive and abusive tactics by debt collectors. This law provides you with certain rights when facing harassment from an abusive debt collector.
In addition, the state of California has passed its own law, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which provides additional protections for consumers. If you have been the victim of unfair debt collection practices, Mr. Silver can help you file a civil lawsuit to stop this illegal conduct and recover compensation for your damages.
Action Against Unfair Debt Collection
To protect yourself against unfair debt collection practices and harassment, it is important to understand what rights you have under state and federal law.
- Consult the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC provides information about what debt collectors can and cannot do. The goal is to eliminate abusive practices and protect consumers.
- Report Your Complaint: Consumers who have been the victims of abusive tactics can file a complaint with the state attorney general's office and the FTC. By reporting the problem, you can build a better case against the violator.
- Stay Aware of Your Debt: Always make sure you know the exact amount that you owe and to whom. In this way you will avoid paying too much or for a debt you don't owe.
- Tell the Collector to Stop Contacting You: Debtors can ask collection agencies to stop contacting them. While this won't get rid of the debt, the harassing conduct will stop.
- Take Legal Action: Sometimes debt collectors will not stop their abuse, no matter what actions a victim takes. Therefore, victims may need to seek legal representation to stop the wrongful conduct and collect penalties and damages.
Protection Against Collection Agencies
If you or a loved one has been subjected to abuse by a debt collector or debt collector harassment, you do not need to suffer further mistreatment. Our attorney, Howard D. Silver, understands the emotional and financial toll caused by such actions. He is dedicated to putting a stop to such abuse.
If you are being harassed, deceived, or abused by a debt collector, Mr. Silver can get you the relief you need from this difficult situation. To learn more about how we can help, please fill out the form on this page or call 818-597-2610. Mr. Silver serves clients in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Glendale and throughout California.