“It may not be your debt, but it could be your problem. Collection agencies are bullying blameless consumers into paying debts they never owed.” Sleazy new debt-collector tactics By Liz Pulliam Weston
If you or someone you know is being harassed by debt collectors concerning money you DO NOT OWE, read the full article at: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ManageDebt/SleazyNewDebtCollectorTactics.aspx
Liz tells some scary stories about the realities of fraudulent debt collectors. One woman had the same first name but a different last name. “The Minneapolis collection agency repeatedly called Lisa and her husband, Michael…At one point, the collector insisted that the Burks were lying or, if Lisa Burk were not Lisa Sterns, that she knew Sterns and could tell Allied Interstate where to find her. It took intervention by the attorney general's office for the calls to finally stop.”
Another man owed nothing but was not only accused and threatened, the agency put the wrongful bill on his credit report. The man was blocked from getting a home equity loan because of it. He needed to close the loan so he paid the bill in full. This is not uncommon.
“Regulators say collection agencies increasingly are harassing innocent people and badgering consumers into paying money they don't owe. More people complain to the Federal Trade Commission about debt collectors than about any other industry.” According to the FTC as much as 80% of the money collected by some companies, came "from consumers who never owed the original debt in the first place.” “These consumers typically paid the company to stop its harassment of themselves, their families, their friends and their co-workers.”
Sometimes consumers suffer from a string of companies who sell uncollectable debts. You may get one company off your back and they may turn around and sell the same wrongful debt to another agency. One agency tried to con Phyllis Maurice of Whittier, Calif., A school teacher, for more than $23,000. They said she owed debts for a detective agency and a psychic consultancy.
“If you're contacted about a debt you don't owe: Know your rights. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has prepared a fact sheet for consumers dealing with third-party debt collectors.
Get the name of the collector, its address and a telephone number. You can tell the collector on the phone to stop calling, but that won't preserve your rights under federal law.
Send a certified letter, return receipt requested. Make it clear the collector has contacted the wrong party, that you don't owe the debt and that you don't want to be called again.
Contact regulators. If the collector continues to call, seek help. Typically, your state's attorney general's office handles complaints against collectors.
You can also complain to the Federal Trade Commission, which typically doesn't intervene in individual cases but may act if it sees a pattern of abuses.
Monitor your credit reports. If a collection agency posts a bogus debt on your credit report, dispute the item immediately with the credit bureaus. Include copies of the certified letter you sent the collector and any complaints you filed with regulators.
Don't wait until you're about to apply for a loan to check your credit report; you'll want at least a few months' head start to dispute any errors.
Consider a lawsuit. Consumers can bring lawsuits against collectors that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, either on their own behalf or as part of a class action.
Contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates: http://www.naca.net/ for referrals to attorneys who handle such cases.”
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