Debt Collectors Caught Breaking the Law

MA-Caver

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Debt Collectors Caught Breaking the Law
Many People Don't Know Rights When Hounded By Collection Agencies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a tough economy, more people are out of work and having trouble paying their bills, but not many people know their rights when it comes to being hounded by collection agencies.

Debt collectors don't always follow the law. The law is very specific about what they can and cannot do. It's detailed in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Even though all collection agencies should know the law, recordings left on answering machines of collectors show they are crossing the line.

A message left on one local man's answering machine by a Jacksonville debt collector was laced with more than just profanity.

"Mr. -----, this is Mickey. When I see you I am going to (expletive) you up," the collector says in a phone message. "I want my money and I want it now. My name is Mickey. I'm with Jacksonville ------. When I see you I will (expletive) you up. ... I need my money. I will find your sister, your daughter, whoever Ms. Deborah (expletive) is, but I will find her and I will find you and I will (expletive) you up. Goodbye."

Tom Stephens, with the Better Business Bureau, said not only is it breaking the law for debt collectors to curse or use vulgar language, but they cannot threaten to hurt someone either.

"A debt collector cannot use profanity to collect a debt," Stephens said. "They cannot threaten, 'We know where you live, we'll look you up.'"

That includes not being able to threaten to garnish your wages, foreclose on your house or threaten to arrest you.

But those threats happen all the time.

"It's a tactic that's effective, but it's illegal," Stephens said.

It's also illegal for debt collectors to harass you, like by calling you nonstop.

One debt collector called four times in a matter of just a couple of hours.

"Cupcake, I am like right now climbing into your family background," the debt collector said in a phone message. "I'm going to dig so deep up yours, you're going to wonder why you didn't do the right thing holding on to this vehicle making blank promises and trying to use me to do it. But that's OK. ... You're just another (expletive) (expletive). Have a nice evening."

What many people don't realize is that you can make the calls stop.

"The law says if you write them a letter and tell them to stop calling you, then they can no longer call you," Stephens said.

It's illegal for them to call you again and ask you for money. It's also against the law to call you if you told them in writing that you've hired an attorney.

Debt collectors cannot imply they are an attorney, police officer or representative of any governmental agency.

Debt collection harassment seems to have become so common that the law firm Morgan and Morgan is now going after abusive agents.

Diane Mcleod, who has hired Morgan and Morgan, said her husband died from the stress of receiving call after call from a debt collector when he fell behind on their mortgage.

"They humiliated him, harassed him, and they didn't care," Mcleod said.

When a collection agent was told Mcleod's husband, Stanley, was rushed to a hospital by helicopter for a massive heartache, the agent responded, "Stanley Mcleod, it's time to get that helicopter to bring you here."

"It's time to fight back and make banks and debt collectors responsible for their conduct," said Bill Howard, with Morgan and Morgan.

One way you can do that is to know your rights, what's legal and what's not.

The final four ways debt collectors break the law are when they don't identify themselves and who they're with, when they try to collect more than what's owed, when they call you after 9 p.m. and before 8 a.m., and when they call your boss or threaten to call your boss before a final judgment is issued in a court of law.

Debt Collectors Caught Breaking Law - Jacksonville News Story - WJXT Jacksonville
 

KELLYG

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I worked in collections for a while, in my younger days. It is, to me, the most miserable job on the planet. The rules and regulations vary from State to State and change periodically. For example, several years back, in MA it is against dunning regulations to discuss debt with a person's spouse if they are not on the account. I also think that if you are in the Military the rules are a bit different too. The best advise that I can give is to contact the people you owe right away make arrangements and keep them. If something changes advise them of that as well. If you are receiving unwanted calls tell them not to contact you via phone. Send a letter to them certified return receipt requested stating the same. If they contact you after that point call an attorney, because they are breaking dunning restrictions. Rude, threatening, cursing, behavior is also against dunning restrictions. Always if there is any problems ask to speak with their supervisor, they may not know what is going on.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Good luck dealing with these scumbags. I spent 3 years getting calls for someone who had my number before me. The amount of personal information they left on my machine was insane, and the amount they gave out talking on the phone equally insane. I have this guys SSN, names of family etc. They refused to believe I wasn't their target, even after I said "Google the damn #.". The agency was one of those recently blasted by NYS AG Cuomo.

Years ago (early 90s) I had a Citibank (any bank by shittibank) card that was behind. They called 7 days a week, from 8am to 9pm once an hour. Informing them of the law, I was told they are exempt. This was repeated by several of their creatures. I sent each check in with that tag on it, closed the account and have refused to do business with them since.
 

Phoenix44

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Also, watch out for "zombie debt" collectors. "Zombie debt" is debt that is past your state's statute of limitations for collection--but it just won't die. Zombie debt collectors buy up this old debt from legitimate creditors for pennies on the dollar, and then send you letters or call you offering to settle the zombie debt for a fraction of what you originally owed--so it sounds like a great deal.

Technically, it's uncollectible, and the original creditor wrote it off years ago. BUT, if you ever pay anything on this debt, even a few bucks, or admit you owe something and make a deal, the statute of limitation starts all over again. You can be sued, have a judgment against you, and your wages garnished. Best thing to do is ask when the "alleged" debt originated, or ignore them, or hang up on them.

I'm not telling you that it's right to default on your debts--but stuff happens, and this particular law protects your rights.
 

Archangel M

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I've locked up a number of people who work for these collections agencies. If you worked for one I'm sure that you probably noticed that quite a few of the callers are of the "shady variety" themselves.

Whats funny (as in odd) is that many of them are probably neck deep in debt themselves.
 

celtic_crippler

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"Mr. -----, this is Mickey. When I see you I am going to (expletive) you up," the collector says in a phone message. "I want my money and I want it now. My name is Mickey. I'm with Jacksonville ------. When I see you I will (expletive) you up. ... I need my money. I will find your sister, your daughter, whoever Ms. Deborah (expletive) is, but I will find her and I will find you and I will (expletive) you up. Goodbye."

...and just how tempting is it to respond, "You don't have to wait. I'm not hard to find. You've got my address so come on over and (expletive) me up. Would you like directions from your office? I'll be happy to MapQuest it for you."
 
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MA-Caver

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...and just how tempting is it to respond, "You don't have to wait. I'm not hard to find. You've got my address so come on over and (expletive) me up. Would you like directions from your office? I'll be happy to MapQuest it for you."
*knock knock*..... now what?
 

Cryozombie

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Also, watch out for "zombie debt" collectors. "Zombie debt" is debt that is past your state's statute of limitations for collection--but it just won't die. Zombie debt collectors buy up this old debt from legitimate creditors for pennies on the dollar, and then send you letters or call you offering to settle the zombie debt for a fraction of what you originally owed--so it sounds like a great deal.

This keeps happening to me, In fact a company called LVNV keeps dragging me to court on a debt that was paid, and was from the 90's. Ive been to court three times on this, I keep winning, and its been thrown out, and now we are back to round four. This time I may pony up the cash to file a motion to the court to have it dismissed with Prejudice, as opposed to how they keep ruling, which is without, which allows these clowns to keep dragging me back.
 
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