Debt collectors are becoming increasingly more aggressive. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has logged more than 140,000 complaints in the past year. The FTC is responsible for enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and ensuring that debt collectors are not abusive, unfair or deceptive in any way.
Many calls that collectors have made to Florida residents do not even concern legitimate debts. This may be because of fraud or miscommunication when collection agencies sell debts to different collectors while failing to clarify whether the debt has been paid off. One of the most important tips when dealing with debt collectors is: always verify the debt is real. Five days after contacting you, debt collectors are required to send a written letter indicating how much is owed, to whom the debt is owed and how one is to proceed in paying off the debt.
If you have tried to resolve a matter with a debt collector without success, then you can try to get them to stop contacting you by doing the following:
• Tell the debt collector in writing to refrain from contacting you;
• Keep copies of all correspondence that you send; and
• Send such requests by certified mail with a return receipt.
After notifying you that they will not be contacting you again (unless further action is required), the debt collector will then be prohibited from contacting you in the future.
Debt collectors are not allowed to harass, deceive or threaten alleged debtors in any manner. If you believe a debt collector has violated the FDCPA, you can then file a lawsuit protecting your rights one year following any violation. The debt will not go away, but you can recover damages such as lost wages and medical bills.
If a debt collector files a lawsuit against you then you will certainly want to contact an experienced attorney. Do not ignore a summons to appear in court. Otherwise your rights will not be protected and your wages may be subject to garnishment.
Source: krdo.com, “Debt Collector Complaints On the Rise,” Tak Landrock, Oct. 13, 2011