Debt collectors are one of the most reviled professions. The image of them preying on the vulnerable may be true in some cases and more complaints are issued against debt collection agencies than any other profession. However, not all debtors are innocent victims just as not all debt collectors are threatening thugs who promise to turn up and break bodily parts.
Let’s put a few facts in perspective. The majority of people who fall into debt do attempt to deal with it, but four percent of debtors do not, preferring to rack up debt with the attitude of ‘can’t pay, won’t pay.’ Often they will simply skip addresses having no intention of paying back the money they spent on credit cards or other financial agreements. In fact such behaviour gives unintentional debtors who feel the stigma of having unpaid debts a bad name, as they often get grouped together in the mind of those who are employed to collect debts.
Someone has to try and recover the debt which both consumers and businesses run up and the Association of Credit and Collection professionals follow ethical practices to recover debts. However they are given a bad name by those agencies who stoop to low and unsavoury practices to recover debts. The bottom line is that those who choose to ignore their debts are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the only action which can be taken against persistent debtors is legal action which can result in court awarded judgements.
Despite what the less than ethical debt collectors may claim there is no debtor’s prison in America anymore, and it is not actually illegal to run up debts and not pay them. This does not make such practices right though, but whilst immoral they are not illegal. Collectors can however issue legal action which results in judgments against debtors, but of these court awarded judgments only 20 percent are ever actually collected on, making it a costly and time consuming business for little return.
Some debtors who blatantly ignore court judgments may find themselves in contempt of court and eventually see the inside of a cell for this reason, rather than for not paying their debt. However the majority of court judgements which are breached are simply not followed up on by the courts.
Many more people are now expected to experience debt collector contact as the economy improves and they are perceived as being better able to cope with their debts again. Many people will be glad of the chance to sort out their outstanding debts simply from the perspective of feeling bad for owing money which they would have rather paid if their circumstances had allowed. Others of course will get a nasty shock presuming that their debts have been forgotten about, but providing no more than six years have passed they should expect to deal with them.
For those who are perhaps wondering what to do if the collection agencies do indeed start to call there is some handy information here.