The debt collection industry is one of the most complained-about industries in America. From 1999 to 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more complaints about debt collection than any other industry in the country. Despite the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and other legislation that attempts to regulate debt collection activities, too many debt collectors are poorly trained, and work in an industry with an extremely high turnover rate.
Another reason debt collectors use abusive and illegal tactics against debtors is that, in most cases, they are likely to get away with their behavior because:
- Most people are uninformed about the laws regarding debt collection.
- It is difficult to prove the behavior occurred, and even more difficult to prosecute it without a knowledgeable and experienced abusive debt collection lawyer.
- Debt collection agencies use legal loopholes which allow them to simply close their operation and create a new identity when they get into trouble, thus avoiding any injunctions and maintaing their ability to operate in the same illegal manner.
What to do if a debt collector is intimidating or harassing you
- Send the debt collector a certified letter (return receipt requested) stating that you believe they are in violation of FDCPA or state laws.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC will not handle your case personally, but you should report the complaint to them anyway, since they will sanction the collector’s agency if it receives enough complaints.
- You may also wish to gather evidence by recording phone conversations and saving email communications with the debt collection agency. If you are able to prove the collector used illegal tactics, you may be able to sue for damages under FDCPA or state consumer protection acts.