With complaints over debt collection practices skyrocketing, Better Business Bureau of Southern urges consumers to protect themselves against bogus and unscrupulous collectors.
The Consumer Fraud Task Force says that consumers need to know their rights if they are contacted by businesses attempting to recover debts. The Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act sets out specific rules on how collectors must operate.
“In this difficult economy, people who have never before dealt with debt collectors are receiving phone calls,” the Task Force said. “Sometimes, these callers are trying to collect on debts that were settled years ago or never existed at all. But even callers trying to collect on legitimate debts can become overly aggressive and violate consumers’ rights.”
Some of the questionable or illegal debt collecting practices include:
- Attempting to collect “phantom” or “zombie” debts. Most often, these are debts that were never owed or were previously paid or otherwise discharged.
- Harassing or intimidating collection tactics, usually involving persistent phone calls.
- Telling debtors they will be arrested or have their property seized unless they make payment.
- Claiming that the collector is a lawyer or affiliated with a law firm when that is not the case.
- Withdrawing money from a consumer’s bank account or charging his or her credit card without (more…)