Individuals facing financial hardship in Miami and throughout the nation are handling a lot of stress. In addition to the guilt that many feel surrounding the issue, they may be dealing with creditor harassment as well. Collection agents are constantly changing the tactics as opportunities present themselves. Despite this, consumers should be aware that there are certain guidelines debt collectors must follow. The failure to do so is a violation of law.
One of the tactics that has recently been employed pertains to seeking medical assistance at the hospital. In some hospitals, debt collectors make contact with patients either acting as hospital employees as they are being admitted or after someone comes out of surgery and are still groggy. The reality is that under federal law, hospitals cannot refuse to treat someone, regardless of how much money they have.
Another tactic pertains to debt that one assumes is gone due to the passage of a statute of limitations, generally a period of three to 10 years. Collectors may be able to tap into that debt by partnering with a bank that in turn offers a new credit card that could under certain circumstances bring the debt back to life. Information regarding the revival of debt is generally included in the fine print that many fail to read.
Some collectors are using social networks like Facebook to try to find a debtor or even determine what assets the individual may have. Because most who are facing financial hardship would not knowingly agree to be “friends” with a collection officer, the collectors are at times forced to create fake profiles. Considering this tactic, it is important to carefully screen invitations to connect on social networks.
Perhaps the most traumatic tactic being employed from creditors in locations through the world is threatening the debtor with an arrest. These individuals can be easily weeded out when one considers that police do not let people know that they will be arrested before it happens.
Should a collection agent employ techniques that are illegal, he or she could face legal consequences brought by a debtor. An attorney can help determine if that is an option.
Source: AARP Bulletin, “Debt Collection Harassment,” Sid Kirchheimer, July 23, 2012