If you are one of the many Americans who are behind on your credit card, house, medical bill or car payments, you may have been contacted by a debt collector. While many times they appear as annoying phone calls periodically during the day and/or night, debt collectors may use a number of ways to get you to make a payment on your late account. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from calling excessively, using profane language, using scare tactics, posing as attorneys or saying that you owe more than your actual debt amount. However, there are many stories of debt collectors going beyond what is allowed and harassing people.
In one case, a collector used a scare tactic to force a family to pay their delinquent payday loan, saying that they were going to take their children or send them to jail if they did not make a payment. One woman continued getting harassing phone calls from debt collectors attempting to collect her late husband’s debt, two years after he passed away. She filed a lawsuit against the agency for the harassment and failing to discharge the debt from a deceased person.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a collection company $3.2 million for using harassing tactics to retrieve debts from clients. Some clients had no idea they had an existing debt because no one had ever contacted them before. Soon, the collectors were calling them early in the morning, in the night and at work. The fine issued was the largest to date.