Consumers Cry Foul Over Debt Collectors

The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, December 15, 2011

MONEY & INVESTING

Consumers Cry Foul Over Debt Collectors, By Jessica Silver Greenberg

“Complaints about debt collectors are pouring into a federal database that tracks allegations for illegal late-night phone calls, arrest threats and other abuse. …

The debt-collection industry… was the subject of a record 164,36 complaints throughDec. 8 of this year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.”

According to the article, only four enforcement actions have been “launched” or begun against debt-collection firms, but some are large fines, such as the one West Asset Management “agreed to pay (of) $2.8 million to settle accusations that included threatening arrest  to people who owed money.”

Debt collectors are regulated under state and federal laws, the latter including the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.   It is illegal to make late-night phone calls, physical threats, and calls after the collector has been asked to stop calling.

The term foul is used in many sports, including U.S. soccer (football in most of the world)  and basketball.  A personal foul is used in American football.   It is used in its derivative sense as something wrong, not correct, not good gamesmanship.

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3 Responses to “Consumers Cry Foul Over Debt Collectors”

  1. nationalassetcommercial Says:

    If The Debt Collectors behave like this you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. They will give you advice over the phone or by email. They can put you in touch with the trading standards department in your local council if you need more detailed or face-to-face advice.

  2. RBDC Says:

    How to reverse boycott debt collectors.

    When a debt collector/debt collection/debt buyer company can repeatedly call with the intent of getting money their customers can repeatedly answer or call back with the intent of not giving them any. They need people to pay with as little talk as possible. They don’t want to talk with people who know they are never going to pay. Be all talk and no pay. Answer when convenient. Call back. Give no information. Verify nothing. Ask as many questions as you can. Answer none.

    Don’t ignore/block/report them. It doesn’t work. These folks want you to ignore them for as long as you can stand to or until you give them something valuable like money or information. Ignoring them is being their good customer. Sending a cease and desist is giving information. It lets them know you are still alive and remain their good customer. Preparing to initiate unlikely individual legal battles is being their good customer.

    Be their bad customer. Make them talk to you fruitlessly for as long as they can stand to or until they stop selecting you as their customer. These companies cannot spend seconds much less minutes on the phone with every person who will never send them a dime. But they don’t know who that is. You do. That knowledge is power. Every second you can keep their staff on the phone will render their business less profitable giving them a reason to never call you again.

    Calling will not reset your SOL. Making a partial payment will.

    One person who does this likes to ask general questions they should but usually won’t answer, “May I have the name and address of your agent for service of process?” Calmly and slowly ask them to spell every word in the address. Read it back for verification. Control the pace. If they are rushing then politely ask them to slowly repeat. “Are you a corporation and if so in which state are you incorporated?” Repeat your questions when you don’t get direct answers. When they won’t answer a question ask, “Would you like to comply with the business and professions codes of your state?” That is usually the point when they hang up on me but if they say they want to comply then begin your questions again.

    Repeat while you have the spare time. These folks have many victims and few operators. If everyone calls back but pays nothing the mass auto-dialer business model becomes unprofitable. Don’t aid and comfort the enemy by ignoring them. Call! Have a nice long slow friendly chat! Make them hang up first.

    Press 2 for Spanish.

    There are certainly enough victims to take down debt collectors so ignoring/blocking seems downright Orwellian. Really? We’re just going to passively submit and go with a block list or however we manage ignoring an endless stream of unwanted phone calls day after day? No! Unite or remain conquered. Answer/return every call – become well practiced at keeping these folks on the phone – or count yourself not amongst the free.

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