Debt collectors don’t get to do whatever they want. There are rules they are supposed to abide by – starting with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Credit card harassment and other illegal tactics are therefore not acceptable. And they are still widespread. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission received a record number of complaints about the tactics used by debt collectors. The total number of complaints was nearly 181,000.
Bill collector calls at odd hours are not allowed.
Debt collectors are also not supposed to try to collect on which the statute of limitations has already expired. Gallingly, however, there are debt collection companies that try to do just that.
ABC News recently highlighted a case of an Ohio man who was sued by a collection company called Asset Acceptance over an old credit card debt – 14 years old, to be exact.
The FTC finally cracked down on this company for threatening to sue on expired debts and reporting them to credit bureaus. Asset Acceptance was fined $2.5 million for these improper actions.
The FTC encourages consumers to become better informed about their rights regarding old debts. Depending on a state’s laws, some debts may become so old that collectors no longer have a legal right to collect them.
Consumers must beware, however, that debt collectors may try to get them to pay part of the debt anyway.
Harassment and threats by bill collectors should not be tolerated. The law sets boundaries. If those boundary lines are crossed, attempts to collect debts become illegal.
Source: “When Debt Collectors Call: What You Need to Know,” Lisa Stark, ABC News, 3-18-12