Report: The number of complaints against debt collectors remains high

Struggling with unpaid bills is often challenging enough without having to deal with incessant calls and threatening letters from debt collectors. Unfortunately, many individuals in Georgia have to contend with these harassing debt collection practices even though they fell on hard times due to no fault of their own - such as circumstances related to unexpected medical expenses or the loss of employment.

However, according to the tens of thousands of complaints filed with federal agencies on a yearly basis, harassing behavior on the part of debt collectors continues to be a problem. This is particularly concerning given the fact that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits many of the actions enumerated within the complaints.

Indeed, in its 2014 annual report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) - one of the agencies charged with enforcing the FDCPA - noted that it handled over 30,000 debt collection complaints during the last six months of 2013 alone. The most common grievances reported were those related to "continued attempts to collect debt not owed" and "communication tactics," such as repeated debt collection calls.

Interestingly, the report also noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - the other FDCPA enforcement agency - received a staggering 204,464 debt collection complaints from several sources in 2013, which was an increase from 2012. The most common allegations of wrongdoing among the complaints filed directly with the FTC included claims that debt collectors made false/illegal threats, placed repeated calls and misrepresented the character, amount or legal status of debts.

Stopping harassing debt collection

Unfortunately, debt collection is a thriving business in the U.S. In fact, according to the CFPB, roughly 14 percent of all American adults were subject to the debt collection process in some way in 2013. Sadly, many of those with their backs against the wall are manipulated by the pervasive tactics used by debt collectors, or worse, they are frozen in a state of inaction since they do not know what their options may be. Consequently, it is crucial for those struggling with overwhelming debt to know that help may be available through bankruptcy.

For instance, filing bankruptcy will put in place an "automatic stay" that will stop all creditor harassment and collection attempts. If a creditor violates this "stay," it may face significant sanctions, which is often a great motivator for ceasing harassing activity.

In addition, bankruptcy provides several options for dealing with the debt itself. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy permits individuals to obtain a fresh start by discharging - or wiping out - debts. Conversely, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives people breathing room by allowing them to consolidate debt and become current on payments.

However, the best course of action for an individual is entirely dependent upon his or her circumstances. Consequently, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney if you are experiencing creditor harassment and believe bankruptcy may be a viable option. A skilled attorney can help review your finances and outline what your rights and options may be.