BOSTON (CBS) – They can be abusive, harassing, and non-stop. But now we have a chance to turn the table on debt collectors. For the first time, authorities will begin policing the industry.
Kevin Lynn is one of many examples of why this is needed. Bill collectors sometimes call his house up to 20 times day. “I always tell them I don’t owe the debt, they have the wrong person, and that I don’t know who the person is,” says Lynn. That’s right, Lynn is harassed by debt collectors and the bill isn’t even his! Adding insult to injury, Lynn gets charged for every incoming call. “I’m very upset that I have to pay to be harassed,” he says.
The Federal Trade Commission says it got more than 150,000 complaints about debt collectors last year. According to FTC attorney Chris Koegel, “some of our number one sources of complaints for consumers are for harassment and abuse, calling too often, using profanity, making violent or abusive threats.” In some cases the debt collectors have threatened arrest, jail time, and a loss of job.
Pat Morris is with the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. He says every industry have some bad apples and that the debt collection trade association says it wants to stop these abusive tactics so others can do the job correctly. But soon they won’t have a choice. Starting on January 2nd, the federal government will begin tracking some of the largest collection agencies in the country.
The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will make sure the large firms are not harassing or deceiving consumers into paying a debt and are using accurate data to pursue debts.
The new oversight won’t keep you from paying the bill but it will hopefully make the process a bit less painful. Need more information on what debt collector are and are not allowed to do?
Visit the CFPB website.