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If you’ve ever been in debt, it might all sound too familiar. The calls from debt collection agencies start almost immediately. When they don’t get what they want, the calls become more and more frequent. After a little time has passed, the calls start to get scarier and scarier. They are supposed to follow the rules, but sometimes the debt collectors blur the line, using threats and intimidation to get debtors to pay.

In fact, the calls can get so terrifying that the people receiving the calls start to feel like criminals. The thing is, many have legitimate reasons for not being able to pay. Some have lost jobs. Some have suffered an injury that’s left them unable to work. Others have had a breadwinning family member pass away. Whatever the reason, when debt collection agencies cross the line, they become the real criminals.

One agency recently found this out the hard way. The Federal Trade Commission conducted an investigation into the company and found that they were using tactics like threatening debtors with jail time, lawsuits and wage garnishment if they didn’t cough up the money. The FTC shut the place down, taking away the owners’ high-priced cars and even seized a home worth $2 million. The property was liquidated to pay the almost 100,000 people that become the victims of their schemes. In all the payments to victims will total $4 million.

The lesson here is that you don’t need to feel intimidated or extorted by debt collectors. If you are struggling with debt and getting calls from debt collectors, remember that you have rights and can speak to an attorney about getting relief for your situation.

Source: nbclosangeles.com, “Victims of Debt Collection Harassment to Get $4 Million,” Andrea Park, Randy Mac, July 7, 2015