Last week we wrote a post on debt collectors who were seeking to collect using social networking sites such as Facebook. While this approach may feel invasive it is certainly not the only approach taken by debt collectors that seems extreme. In all too many instances Miami area residents are contending with illegal collection practices. Today we will highlight some of those practices.
One debt collection agency was recently shutdown after it pretended it had legal authority to do things it did not. In some instances it pretended it was a law firm, even seeking to collect attorneys' fees. In other situations is said it was working with law enforcement and threatened to have debtors arrested for not paying their bills. Additionally, the collector indicated that when the debtor was behind bars, his or her children would be taken into custody of the government. In both of these instances the collector did not have a legal basis to make such claims.
A second debt collector has engaged in outrageous behavior while trying to collect debt as well. This one threatened to injure and kill a woman's dog. Once it was dead, representatives of that agency said that they would eat the animal. Other debtors underwent even worse threats. WHen they lacked the money to pay the funeral bills that accumulated after their children died, they were told that the collector would dig up the bodies of their loved ones and leave them in various areas around the debtors' home.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits the type of behavior outlined above. Collection agencies that engage in such activity could find that they are facing action by the Federal Trade Commission. Lawsuits brought by the FTC can lead to massive fines or being shutdown altogether.
While most of the time creditor harassment is not of such an extreme nature, debtors need to be aware that there are steps they can take to halt it. An attorney who handles such cases should be able to help identify the best course of action.
Source: CNN Money, "Debt collection horror stories," Blake Ellis, Feb. 6, 2013
- Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Miami collections page.