For proof that some debt collection agencies are virtually shameless and unscrupulous, consider this: One of them was recently fined more than $700,000 for threatening to exhume the bodies of dead children for non-payment of funeral bills. Others have threatened to hurt debtors’ pets. Still others tell debtors that they can be taken to jail and lose custody of their children.
There are compelling reasons why protections are extended to debtors under both federal and state laws. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), for example, provides debt relief to otherwise harassed consumers by barring collectors from threatening acts of violence, calling frequently and embarrassing workers at their workplace.
The FDCPA also makes it flatly illegal, for obvious reasons, for any collector to imply he or she is an attorney or is somehow affiliated with a law firm when that is not the case. For persons who think that this is an uncommon tactic, the following story most assuredly establishes that it is not. One debt collection company in Pennsylvania decorated its office as a courtroom, to fool and intimidate debtors, even going so far as to carry out mock court proceedings.
Yet another firm stated a nexus with local law enforcement and told a debtor’s co-workers at her place of employment that she was about to be arrested and that they would have to come to the police station to identify her from a lineup.
Such tactics certainly strike all reasonable people as sordid and indefensible, as well as underscore the need for any person needing debt relief to contact a proven bankruptcy attorney, who will know how to stop harassment, take action against it if necessary and fully promote the client’s best interests.
Source: CNN Money, “Debt collection horror stories,” Blake Ellis, Feb. 6, 2013
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