What Is Debt Collection?
Debt collectors are often thought of as the lowest form of humanity currently on our planet. The term debt collectors can refer to any individual working to collect a debt as well as any company or law firm that makes it their business to collect debts. Debt collectors are very busy these days with consumer debt at a staggering record of $16.2 trillion with $88 billion of that in medical debt alone.
It is important to note that debt collectors are generally unhappy people. They spend most of their day lying to or manipulating otherwise innocent consumers, doing anything they can to squeeze a few dollars out of people that can't afford it. Keep in mind the company they work for probably doesn't pay them well or treat them well and often times this leads to resentment, anger, and frustration all being taken out on innocent consumers.
How Debt Collection Agencies Work
Debt collection agencies have one purpose – to convince people to pay them money for debts that they may or may not owe. Debt collectors do this by contacting you directly through any means available to them, phone calls, text messages, emails, social media DM's, and old fashioned letters in the mail.
Debt collection companies can be broken down into two general categories. One, first-party creditor isn't a debt collection company but the in-house collection wing of the creditor. If the company trying to collect from you is separate from the creditor than they are not a first-party creditor and probably meet the legal definition of a debt collector.
Next, third-party debt collectors are debt collection companies and/or debt buyers. Debt buyers that buy debt in default are debt collectors. Debt collection companies are shady but debt buyers take the shadiness to an entirely new level. Debt buyers typically buy debt in bulk and may not have a lot of supporting information regarding the debt. But, that doesn't strop them from aggressively collecting. Since they usually buy defaulted debt at pennies on the dollar they get rich off their return in investment. Even if they break the law to collect money it doesn't matter since it is profitable.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA – Federal law) and the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA – State law) require debt collectors to treat consumers with dignity, honesty, and respect. For example, debt collectors aren't allowed to lie to you, embarrass, belittle, or harass you. Debt collectors aren't supposed to go to your house and ask you for money, they're not supposed to call more than seven times in any seven-day period, and they're not supposed to call you at work.
Unfortunately, the reality is that most, if not all debt collectors strictly comply with the law. Most make the business decision that they'll make more money going outside the bounds of federal and state law because consumers don't often hire lawyers to protect them from debt collectors. The consumers that do hire lawyers, such as Florida Consumer Lawyers, often win lawsuits and cash damage awards for the various violations of federal and state law debt collectors often commit.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Contacts You
First thing to do is assume that the debt collector isn't legit. Next, ask a lot of questions such as: (1) what is the name of the company calling? (2) what is the name of the person you are speaking with? (3) who is the original creditor on the debt? (4) what information can the debt collector provide that shows the original debt? (5) what is the address, email, and phone number of the debt collector? (6) will the debt collector send you something in writing. It's important to note that you should not give the debt collector any sensitive information such as your full name, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, or bank account information. Most importantly, DO NOT pay them anything.
Fraudulent debt collectors are a big industry so its safe to assume that any call from a debt collector is probably a scam. Until the debt collector provides you with more information, in writing, you should assume it is a scam.
A great practice for any consumer is to take and keep detailed notes on the debt collector call. Also, screenshot the call in your cell phone's call log for future reference.
Here is a list of common debt collector tactics that are illegal:
- Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Calling you repeatedly.
- Posting any messages on social media about your debt.
- Using obscene language or curse words while talking to you.
- Making threats.
- Publishing lists of people who refuse to pay debts. (They can report information to a credit reporting company, however.)
- Lying about the amount you owe.
- Lying to you at all. (They can't, for instance, tell you that you're going to jail if you don't pay up. They can't call pretending to be somebody else.)
If you have any issues with debt collectors then call Florida Consumer Lawyers today.