If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a “debtor.” If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your accounts, you may be contacted by a “debt collector.” Yes, some people run up debts and fail to pay what they owe. But there are also debt collection agencies and debt collectors who perpetrate scams on honest people who owe nothing; and debt collectors who clearly violate the law in collecting debts. Debt collectors generate more complaints to the FTC and state Attorney Generals offices than any other industry. Some debt collectors engage in illegal conduct. Some collectors harass and threaten consumers, demand larger payments than the law allows, refuse to verify disputed debts, and disclose debts to consumers’ employers, co-workers, family members, and friends. Debt collection abuses cause harms that financially vulnerable consumers can ill afford. Many consumers pay collectors money they do not owe and fall deeper into debt, while others suffer invasions of their privacy, job loss, and domestic instability.You should know that in any situation, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not erase any legitimate debt you owe.
What should I do if a collector calls me?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm; arguments do not solve anything. If you get angry you may forget important information. In responding to complaints that bill collectors were abusive, it is often discovered it was actually the consumer who was abusive.
If you are contacted
Find out the name, address and phone number of the company calling you. Find out the name of the business you owe money to, if different from the caller. Get the exact amount they claim you owe. Confirm that this debt is owed by contacting the business on whose behalf they claim they are collecting, and ask that business if they have authorized this agency to collect the debt for them