Debt Collectors Often Cross the Line

There is a reason why people who have been contacted by debt collection agencies often start screening their phone calls. “Pleasant,” “understanding,” and “professional” are not terms generally used to describe a debt collector.

The Center for Responsible Lending has issued a new report revealing inappropriate conduct and downright abusive behavior rampant within the debt collection industry. Recent investigations have found that debt collectors continue to cross the line, resorting to lying, harassing behavior, coercive language, and forged documents in attempts to collect. In addition, some debt collectors are suing over debt that is too old and charging outrageous interest amounts. Now, several state legislatures are looking to stop this activity by creating laws to protect consumers’ rights.

While not all debt collectors are engaging in this kind of behavior, there are plenty of cases in which this has become the norm. For example, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found one collection team of 8 lawyers who have filed 350,000 lawsuits against consumers since 2009. The team signed massive amounts of documents with little or no review. For people with a common name, such as John Jones, this inattention to detail can mean the garnishment of wages for a debt that they didn’t even incur. And it’s not only inattention to detail- some of these debt collectors provide incorrect, inadequate, or deliberately wrong documentation in order to quickly pursue court judgments against consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission has urged lawmakers to step up and combat these abuses. With the correct laws in place, debt collectors would no longer be able to sue over debts beyond the statute of limitations, sell debts that they know have been paid off, or pursue debts that cannot be adequately verified.

If you have been sued by a debt collection agency, contact a debt collection attorney immediately. There is a short window of time in which to act in these type of cases, so it is important to act right away.

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