Given the declining economy and the dramatic loss of personal income and jobs, a growing number of people are finding themselves in serious credit card debt, many for the very first time. Overzealous collection agencies are making the lives of people in trouble absolutely miserable. Collection abuse has reached absurd and intolerable levels as most people struggle to find ways to climb out of debt.
Collectors are urging people to sell their blood to pay down their credit card debt. Blood banks are apparently paying up to $35.00 per donation. Not to worry, some collectors say, the body quickly replenishes its supply of plasma in the blood. And what does the sale of sperm bring in today’s market? It varies depending on the sperm bank, but if you’re a healthy male between the ages of 18 and 45, you can fetch up to $65.00 per specimen. These scenarios would be almost funny if it wasn’t so pathetically true.
Other collectors are routinely telling cardholders to charge their credit card debt on to other credit cards worsening an already bad situation. Other collectors tell people to borrow money from their children or parents to pay off their debt. Ironically, while this type of over-the-top collection techniques are offensive and outrageous – they are considered under most state laws legal.
It is abundantly clear their needs to be a serious overhaul of our federal collection laws to better reflect the times and circumstances we’re in. We need to protect consumers from these types of cold-hearted abuses.
In the meantime, consumers need to know what specific conduct collection agency are legally prohibited from doing in trying to collect a debt from you. They include but are not limited to:
Collectors cannot call you at unreasonable hours: The law presumes that 8:00 am -9:00 pm is reasonable. Any time outside this range is presumed to be unreasonable and therefore unlawful in most states.
Collectors cannot call you at work, so long as you first inform them that your employer does not permit personal phone calls.
Collectors cannot communicate with other people about your debt or even that you owe a debt – while they can look for you – they cannot mention or imply that it is about a debt owed.
Collectors cannot threaten to sue you or take other legal action (like repossession or wage garnishment) unless they actually intend on doing so. (Also known as the “put-up or shut-up rule)
Collectors cannot engage in “harassment” in order to collect a debt. The following prohibited conduct has been considered harassment per se in most states:
Collectors cannot threaten you that your credit will be ruined if you fail to pay your debt. Collectors cannot threaten harm in any way– either directly or indirectly.
Collectors cannot use profanity.
Collectors cannot call you outside lawful hours (8:00 am-9:00pm).
Collectors cannot call you repeatedly (Most states prohibit more then once a day).
Collectors cannot give the false impression that you are speaking with a lawyer. Similarly, they cannot send you a letter that falsely gives the impression it’s from a law office.
Collectors cannot request that you write a post-dated check. (A five-day post is allowed in some states).
Collectors cannot falsely insinuate that by not paying your debt you have committed a crime. (Being delinquent on a debt is not a criminal offense.)
Collectors cannot communicate with you if you have referred them to your attorney and have given them the name, address and phone number of the attorney.
Collectors cannot communicate with you by postcard.
The most important thing to remember is to never take collection calls or their written communication personally. Don’t let your emotions run your course of action. It is time for you to keep your cool and think clearly. Almost everyone, one time or another will run into financial trouble. Sometimes that trouble can be caused by a lost job, illness, divorce, accident or a hundred other miserable troubles people are forced to endure in times of financial hardship.
For more information on debt and bankruptcy visit GotTrouble.com