You may not like it, but if you happen to have debts which are in default it shouldn’t really be a surprise if a debt collector makes contact with you. Hiding from debt rather than picking up the phone and trying to make arrangements to deal with it will catch up eventually, particularly when your creditors outsource collections activities to third party agencies.
Those who do have outstanding unpaid bills most often want to sort them and will deal with agencies which make contact to collect on the debt. However some delinquent debtors have no intention at all of repaying their debts and have found a nice little niche in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which they can take advantage of to profit from. They are even encouraged to do so by the advertisements of a bunch of lawyers who have found a new kind of ambulance chasing to engage in: welcome to the debt collection abuse attorneys who are proliferating to help debtors to file lawsuits against the collection agencies.
Whilst legitimate grievances of irresponsible harassment from agencies are valid, the outright solicitation of some attorneys to encourage anyone who has ever had a couple of phone calls to file harassment lawsuits for a cool $1000 per violation of the Act is inevitably going to result in abuse. Violations pertaining to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act include calling you persistently; calling you before 8a.m. and after 9p.m.; disclosing your debt to a third party when it is none of their business; telling you they will foreclose on your property when chasing an unsecured debt; threatening to have you arrested and thrown in prison; and contacting you at work when you have asked them not to.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how the Act can be abused for profit when a money hungry debt abuse attorney catches the eye of a delinquent debtor who has no intention of taking his actual financial reward from any lawsuit to repay his creditor.
There are federal agencies in place to protect such a debtor, and the new agency for the Federal Protection of Consumers is also going to have powers over the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It won’t be able to change the law but it may well start to intervene with suggestions being made that it may issue a code of conduct over the type of messages which debt collectors are allowed to leave.
The inevitable result of all this intervention will be lending institutions will need to recover the additional costs somewhere, and no doubt these will fall on the shoulders of the vast majority of consumers who pay their bills or attempt to make arrangements when they do fall into debt.
If people are genuinely abused, threatened or intimidated by the practice of debt collectors trying to recover debts then there should be some recourse for complaint, and the Act provides it. However the Act is open to abuse and legitimate collectors will be increasingly more powerless to do their jobs for fear of consumers claiming abuse where none exists, as the result of a judgment in their favor will be a nice little earner for many. Debtors will no doubt be rushing off to sign up with the debt collection abuse attorneys, many of who are willing to work for a percentage of the violation reward awarded.