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Avoid Common Debt Collection Practices

Jan 14, 2008
Debt collection has become an issue with some consumers. Generally, debt collection procedures do not begin until after the lender has tried a variety of ways to get paid what is owed them. Some of the more common methods that lenders use include sending letters of delinquent payment and perhaps placing phone calls to the borrower's home. When these methods have proven to be futile, the lender may pass the loan onto a debt collection agency or company.

In times past, debt collection agencies could and would use a variety of tactics to get people to pay. In some cases these tactics were more along the lines of harassment and intimidation than they were good business practices. It was not uncommon for some agencies to call a borrower's place of work. Some of the more aggressive types would call regularly and that often caused trouble for the worker. Other companies would falsely tell people that they (the debt collection agency) were going to garnish wages if the bill wasn't paid quickly. Many consumers did not know that wage garnishments have to come through a court and cannot be levied by a debt collection agency. There were plenty of other tactics used as well. Some were verbal and some were written.

After years of abuses such as these, the Federal government finally had to step in and impose certain limitations on debt collection agencies. Today, these same types of agencies have to follow guidelines and rules as stated in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under these rules, collectors are not allowed to do certain things. These include:

Debt collectors may not harass, oppress or abuse anyone. They may not use threats or harm the person, his property or his reputation. In addition, they are not allowed to publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts, except to a credit bureau. The use of obscene or profane language whether in person or over the telephone is strictly prohibited. Repetitive telephone calls to harass the person are also not allowed. Debt collectors are not allowed to use false information in order to get a person to pay up. Unless it is true, debt collectors are not allowed to say that they have attorneys working the case. They may not act as if they are attorneys working on the case unless they really are. They cannot falsely imply that you have committed a crime.

In other matters, they are not allowed to falsely represent that they work for any credit bureau. Debt collectors must not misrepresent the amount of your debt. They cannot tell you that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not and vice-versa. They cannot tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt. In addition, they are not allowed to seize, garnish, attach or sell your property or wages without court approval. Lastly, they cannot try to frighten you by telling you that they are going to take legal action against you if that action is not available as a legal course of action.

You can learn more about your rights and what to do if you are abused by visiting any of the consumer right's websites.
About the Author
Peter Kenny is a writer for The Thrifty Scot, please visit us at Debt Consolidation and Debt Management
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