Stop Collection Agency Harassment

Stop collection agency harassment: even though the bill is legitimately owed, there are some tactics that collection agencies are not allowed to use.

When owing a legitimate bill that is overdue, a debtor should immediately try to make arrangements with the company owed. If arrangements are unsuccessful or the amount owed is still not payed, collecion agencies will usually be called upon to contact the debtor. Most of these agencies are ethical in their practices. However, some use practices that are unethical as well as illegal. Here are ways to protect yourself from dishonest and harassing bill collectors who try to obtain payment at all costs.

Collection agencies have guidelines laid out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This clearly defines the methods a collector can use to obtain payment of an obligation. If an agency violates these guidelines, a consumer has a legal right to sue the agency for damages.

Often collection agencies obtain a group of overdue accounts from a creditor. If the agency collects what is owed, they receive a percentage of the payment in return for their services. If the collection agency collects a percentage of what is paid, the original creditor still owns the account and the collection agency has no right to sue the debtor. Some unscrupulous collectors will threaten to take a debtor to court when actually they do not have the legal right and have no intentions to do so. Actually, all the collection agency can do in this situation is to put a derogatory entry into a debtor's credit report, which may follow the debtor for years. This kind of scare tactic frequently works but is illegal.

Another unethical practice is when collection agencies misrepresent themselves to a debtor. Sometimes they will make contact with a debtor and pretend to be a member of law enforcement or an attorney. They may even send out paperwork that looks deceptively like court documents such as judgments or subpoenas. This is illegal as well.

Contacting debtors at hours before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. is considered harassment. It is also considered as harassment if a collection agent contacts someone at his place of employment after being requested not to do so. It is illegal to contact your friends and neighbors for purposes of collecting an overdue debt. They must not contact you or anyone else if requested not to do so in writing. If you suspect an agency of harassment, it is wise to keep all communications in writing, particularly if you are requesting that they cease their harassing tactics.

Within five days of the initial contact with a debtor, the debtor must be supplied with the amount owed, the name and address of the business that is owed and a statement that, by not contacting the collection agency within 30 days, the debtor agrees to the correctness of the amount owed. All this information must be sent to the debtor in writing.

If a debtor wishes to dispute the debt in some way, he must contact the collection agency and inform them of the dispute. The collector must then send the debtor proof of what is owed and the name of the original party owed. Until the collection agency proves the debt, all collection efforts must cease and any entries on credit reports concerning the delinquency must include a statement that the debt is disputed.

If a collection agency still persists to use dishonest or harassing tactics, legal assistance should be obtained immediately.

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