Debt Collections and Consumer Rights

Know Your Rights!

Are budgets liberating or restrictive?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) aggressively pursues consumer complaints against abusive debt collectors. This is not a new effort, but it is always pleasing to hear of another bad apple getting their comeuppance.

Collectors Serve a Purpose

To be sure, debt collection agencies serve a legitimate purpose. With approximately one in ten Americans having an account in collection (Federal Reserve Bank of NY), and the average collections account balance totaling nearly $1,500, we’re talking about nearly $15 Billion dollars of outstanding debts that American businesses are owed by consumers. That ain’t chump change! Granted, that mostly involves medical and utilities debts, but that’s money that company’s make up by raising fees and charges to other customers.

Bad AppleUnfortunately, the bad apples can spoil the business for those who are doing things the right way. Here’s a list of abusive practices that run contrary to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act:

  1. Calling before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm (or any time that you’ve told them is inconvenient): ABUSIVE
  2. Using profanity or abusive language: ABUSIVE
  3. Threatening you or lying to you: ABUSIVE
  4. Repeatedly calling you with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass you: ABUSIVE
  5. Telling your friends or family members that you owe money: ABUSIVE
  6. Threatening you with imprisonment or arrest: ABUSIVE (unless there’s actual fraud involved, and not just your inability to pay)
  7. Calling you at work if receiving personal phone calls is against company policy: ABUSIVE
  8. Threatening to take away or garnish your social security, veterans or other federal benefits: ABUSIVE
  9. Continuing to contact you after you’ve sent them a written notice requesting that they cease contacting you: ABUSIVE

For a simple but straight up video about debt collection abuses and your consumer rights, check out this brief FTC video:

To file a complaint against a debt collector who is exhibiting abusive collection practices, use one or more of the following links:

  1. Federal Trade Commission
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  3. Your State’s Attorney General

One of the beauties of the universe is the concept of karma. Often, when debt collection agencies get aggressive with consumers, consumer protection agencies like the FTC or CFPB eventually get VERY aggressive with the collection agencies. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy just at the thought!

Thanks for stopping by today. Please share this article with friends and family in your network.

Todd Christensen-Author of Everyday Money for Everyday People, Todd ChristensenTodd Christensen
Everyday Money for Everyday People


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