How Can I Stop Harassing Creditors?
Today on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, we talked about how everyday consumers are getting back over $60 million in refunds from debt collectors.
Earlier this month, two of the nation’s largest debt collectors who were accused of harassing and misleading consumers settled to not only refund nearly $60 million, but also agreed to stop trying to collect on another $128 million in debts.
It seems these guys were up to some tricky tactics that we definitely wanted to make our listeners aware of because IF you haven’t experienced some of this stuff you definitely know someone that has.
San Diego-based Encore Capital Group and Virginia-based Portfolio Recovery Associates were accused of harassing consumers by:
- calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m (the law states that creditors cannot call you repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass you into paying.)
- declaring the burden of proof is on the consumer to prove a debt claim was invalid as opposed to them having to prove that the debt is valid
- regularly attempting to collect on debts by suing consumers in state courts across the country. In numerous cases, the companies had no intention of proving these debts. They placed tens of thousands of debts with law firms staffed by only a handful of attorneys and in many cases made no effort to obtain the documents to back up their claims. Instead, the companies relied on consumers not filing a defense and winning the lawsuits by default.
So, what if this has happened to you?
1. Keep a journal of the days and times of calls, as well as the method of contact you are receiving from credit collectors. You will need this in order to establish that the creditor’s efforts are indeed “continuous” and “repeated.”
2. Notify the creditor by phone if you do find that their contact is actually abusive. Let them know that you know your rights and that you do not wish to be harassed in such a manner and that you would prefer your communication by mail. Verify your mailing address with them and make an arrangement to handle your hardship if you still have not by this point. In my e-course, Real Credit Answers, I actually teach you how to develop a script so you’re not intimidated by talking to your creditors.
3. Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.