« on: April 20, 2004, 10:01:46 PM »
It is illegal for any credit/debt collection agency to threaten you or insult you. When I graduated from college, another student stole a book of my checks and forged them all over town. For over a year debt collectors tried these slimy tactics in order to recover their money, and I didn't know any better but to feel threatened. Finally, the assistant commonwealth's attorney working on the case flooded the offices of these collection agencies with official court correspondence proclaiming my innocence, and they now leave me alone.
Get to know your rights. The laws of your state are going to provide your greatest (most immediate) protection. Find out how these agencies are allowed to contact you (i.e. Are the prohibited from calling your home? Most likely they are), and WHAT INFORMATION they are allowed to convey when contact is made. If there are specific laws that state they may only tell you how much you owe, by when you must make payment and to whom, then they have been acting illegally with the use of insults and threats. Most likely they are allowed to mention court action, but only in reference to an actual court date to settle the issue.
Once you know your rights, type them up and keep them near the phone. Read them whenever you receive a call, and keep a form letter on file for any threatening mail you receive. Make sure you always ask for the first and last name of anyone who calls you, and ask for an employee number if they refuse to answer. RECORD THIS INFORMATION, because it can (and most likely will) become helpful later. Finally, contact your legal aid office, and start gathering recommendations for a more efficient debt reduction service.
And I completely agree that collection agencies are often inclined to break the law, and the sad thing is that they usually get away with it. That's why it's so important to know your rights -- and to let anyone who threatens you know them as well.