Horror stories involving outrageous debt collection practices
Many Georgia residents can relate to having been harassed by a bill collector at one time or another. Although there are numerous protections under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well as state laws that specifically prohibit abusive and threatening behavior by debt collectors, many of them still employ these tactics when attempting to collect on a debt. Some of the tactics include threats of violence, using obscenities, incessant telephone calls and claims by the caller that he or she is an attorney.
All of these practices are illegal as is telling a consumer he or she will be arrested or their wages or property will be garnished unless the collector actually plans to take that action and can legally do so through an order from the court. Many consumers have their own horror stories to tell and some of these practices may actually lead consumers to consider taking action on their own. A simple phone call to a bankruptcy attorney can help a consumer determine a plan of action to make the harassment stop.
Some of these horror stories include a Texas debt collection agency that was recently shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for using abusive and deceptive tactics to scare consumers by threatening to have them arrested. Collectors would claim in incessant phone calls that they would send the sheriff to their place of employment to send them to jail. They would even go so far as to say the consumers children would be taken away by child protective services.
One consumer filed acclaim stating the agency claimed the collectors belonged to a law firm and also claimed to work for local law enforcement. They would inflate the debt by adding attorneys’ fees that were not authorized. These collectors were harassing a consumer over a $300 pay day loan that had already been paid and called her coworker and told him she was being arrested and they could identify her in a lineup. Another case of harassment involved such egregious scare tactics the agency was fined more than $700,000.
This agency claimed it would dig up the dead bodies of the consumer’s children if they did not pay the funeral bills. This kind of behavior although extreme does happen and consumers need to protect themselves from abusive dent collectors who are often attempting to collect on a debt that has either already been paid or settled. Anyone harassed by a debt collector should contact a bankruptcy attorney to learn their rights and steps they can take to protect those rights.
Source: CNN Money, “Debt collection horror stories,” Blake Ellis, Feb. 6, 2013