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Putting aggressive debt collection agencies in check

Aug 09, 2011 Mike Garretson

Particularly in light of the economic recession, many consumers have fallen behind on their debts, forcing bills to go into collection. Once this happens, the calls from debt collectors come pouring in, and while it may seem easier to simply ignore them, that can result in a difficult situation down the road. It may seem that the majority of people are behind on their bills, but the Huffington Post reported 68 percent of people pay their bills on time. Only 28 percent of people have difficulty making their payments on time, according to the source. To keep debt collection firms away, a consumer should contact a lender as soon as possible if they're having difficulty making a bill payment. Rather than simply sending a bill off to an agency, a lender may instead try to negotiate a course of action. This not only benefits the consumer, but helps a lender avoid an expensive and often time-consuming collections process. By law, debt collectors can only go so far to get their capital. It violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act for a collector to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and collectors can't use abusive language or threaten violence or arrest. They're also barred from pretending they're government employees or attorneys, nor can they reveal to other people or firms whether a consumer owes money. Additionally, it's illegal for a debt collection agency to threaten to file a lawsuit unless they actually intend to do so. "If a collection agency contacts you initially by phone, they must send you a written notice within five days telling you how much you owe, the name of the creditor owed and how to file a dispute if you don't agree," Jason Alderman, senior director at Visa, told the source. Overly aggressive debt collectors aren't uncommon, however. One South Dakota group, Criminal Investigations, tells consumers falsely pretends to be law enforcement officials who are attempting to collect debts that are related to short term loans consumers obtained over the internet, KCAU-TV reported. Most consumers the group targets have never applied for this sort of loan, and those that have already paid their bills in full.