Brian Kelly

ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-A new study by the Better Business Bureau says that while the debt collection industry is thriving, complaints against it are soaring.

According to the report released Thursday, which you can read here, consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission increased 17% in 2011.

BBB Spokesman Chris Thetford says consumers are complaining that some debt collectors are using illegal, strong-arm tactics, “Consumers have told us things like, ‘The debt collector threatened to take away my disability pay. The debt collector threatened to file criminal charges on me and the debt collector said things like I would be arrested.'” Thetford says all of those things are prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Thetford says debt collectors are also taking consumers to court, filing suits using scant or false information. He says in many cases they win default judgements and then garnish the wages or attach the debtor’s bank accounts.

He says if a debt collector sues you, don’t ignore it, “Even if you think you don’t owe the debt you should go to court and make that point, rather than allowing a default judgement to be entered against you and to allow a garnishment process to start.’

Thetford says one of the problems facing consumers in Missouri, is that the state is one of only a few in the country without its own version of that act, and he’d like to see that change in the upcoming legislative session. He says if a Missouri consumer has a problem with a debt collector, they have to sue them in federal court.

Thetford suggests that if you have debt issues, try to work with your creditors. If that doesn’t work, check with reputable non-profit organizations for counseling.

Copyright KMOX Radio




Comments (4)
  1. RBDC says:

    How to reverse boycott debt collectors.

    When a debt collector/debt collection/debt buyer company can repeatedly call with the intent of getting money their customers can repeatedly answer or call back with the intent of not giving them any. They need people to pay with as little talk as possible. They don’t want to talk with people who know they are never going to pay. Be all talk and no pay. Answer when convenient. Call back. Give no information. Verify nothing. Ask as many questions as you can. Answer none.

    Don’t ignore/block/report them. It doesn’t work. These folks want you to ignore them for as long as you can stand to or until you give them something valuable like money or information. Ignoring them is being their good customer. Sending a cease and desist is giving information. It lets them know you are still alive and remain their good customer. Preparing to initiate unlikely individual legal battles is being their good customer.

    Be their bad customer. Make them talk to you fruitlessly for as long as they can stand to or until they stop selecting you as their customer. These companies cannot spend seconds much less minutes on the phone with every person who will never send them a dime. But they don’t know who that is. You do. That knowledge is power. Every second you can keep their staff on the phone will render their business less profitable giving them a reason to never call you again.

    Calling will not reset your SOL. Making a partial payment will.

    One person who does this likes to ask general questions they should but usually won’t answer, “May I have the name and address of your agent for service of process?” Calmly and slowly ask them to spell every word in the address. Read it back for verification. Control the pace. If they are rushing then politely ask them to slowly repeat. “Are you a corporation and if so in which state are you incorporated?” Repeat your questions when you don’t get direct answers. When they won’t answer a question ask, “Would you like to comply with the business and professions codes of your state?” That is usually the point when they hang up on me but if they say they want to comply then begin your questions again.

    Repeat while you have the spare time. These folks have many victims and few operators. If everyone calls back but pays nothing the mass auto-dialer business model becomes unprofitable. Don’t aid and comfort the enemy by ignoring them. Call! Have a nice long slow friendly chat! Make them hang up first.

    Press 2 for Spanish.

    There are certainly enough victims to take down this company so ignoring/blocking seems downright Orwellian to me. Really? We’re just going to passively submit and go with a block list or however we manage ignoring an endless stream of unwanted phone calls day after day? No! Unite or remain conquered. Answer/return every call – become well practiced at keeping these folks on the phone – or count yourself not amongst the free.

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