Debt Collection Complaints Continue to Rise Sharply

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Even in a good economy, the debt collector comes knocking. However, in a bad economy, he knocks a little bit louder and a lot longer. As the unemployment rate climbs and fewer people can make good on their debts -debt collectors become more aggressive and more apt to use illegal methods to try and collect on outstanding debts -whether owed or not.

It's important to know what your Federal and State rights are in order to protect yourself from overly aggressive debt collectors. Always seek the advice of an experienced consumer attorney, especially if you believe your rights have been trampled on by illegal debt collection practices. Here's a few answers to the most common questions;

What if the Debt Isn't Yours?

The solution here may sound simple, but getting the debt collector to take note is not quite as simple. After all, they are determined to make you pay because that is how they get paid. If you don't cough up the cash, then he or she isn't going to earn their commission. Nonetheless, if the debt simply doesn't belong to you, Never pay it -in hopes it will get them to go away. That will cause further harm to your credit reports as it is an acknowledgment the debt was in fact yours. Whatever correspondence you send to a debt collector should be sent via certified mail.

What if the Debt is Very Old? Do You Have to Pay?

In most cases, a collection agency can only initiate a lawsuit to collect a debt within a very limited time frame. Although the number of years vary according to the statute of limitations in force in a particular state, check with an experienced attorney whether it is still even recoverable.

Old Debt? Can the Debt Collector Threaten to Place it Back on Your Credit Report?

The debt collector can threaten to place an old debt back on your credit report all he wants, but the truth of the matter is that after a predetermined time has passed, he cannot do so. Therefore, his threats to ruin your credit score by placing these debts on your credit reports are often idle threats. In most cases, old debts will remain on your credit report for seven years unless they are linked to a bankruptcy or foreclosure. Then, those debts will remain visible on your credit report for as long as ten years.

Can a debt collector threaten me?

NO! Debt collectors may not harass you, threaten you, humiliate you or intimidate you. They can't call you all hours of the day and night and they are not allowed to share news of your debt with anyone other than your spouse. That means they can't call your boss (or threaten to do so), leave messages on your answering machine with details of your debt, contact your neighbors or any relative other than your spouse

Know what your rights are -to best protect them! See a few earlier blogs with video and links here.

According to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the debt collector is not allowed to keep calling you once you notify them in writing not to. However, the collection agency is entitled to contact you if they are initiating a lawsuit, an unlikely event when the debt is not yours.

Also, today's Sun Sentinel has an article pointing out that consumer complaints against debt collectors in Florida have risen sharply.

Florida's attorney general received 5,342 complaints against debt collectors in 2008, a 25 percent increase from 2007. This year, complaints are on track to exceed 5,900. The state's Office of Financial Regulation, which licenses collectors, has received 780 complaints so far this year, compared with 629 in 2008. See article hereDebt collectors: More consumers reporting abusive, illegal tactics

Are you a consumer struggling with debt and unsure of your rights and how to stop illegal debt collection practices?

Come to the Consumer Empowerment Conference & EXPO in Hollywood, FL on Saturday, November 21st at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 1:00 pm. Meet with your advocates and learn how to protect yourself against financial predatory practices. See PDF or feel free to email me directly questions. More details tba soon.


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They called me at least 10 times a day and then called my boss. I told them if they did that I would never be able to pay them. I didn't know about this but found you by searching for debt collection complaints. I would have paid my old phone bill but after my credit card company doubled my payments and cut me off, I will only keep falling behind.I will pay them but will need more time now. I can't take them hounding me anymore so thank-you for this.

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