If you have any past due accounts, you have experienced the torment of a creditor. Harassing phone calls, notices marked with a scarlet stamp reading “Past Due” and threatening collection letters. Many people are sinking further into debt and trying to make minimum payments to avoid defaulting on their accounts, while worrying about the next call from a creditor. State laws prohibit creditors from taking certain actions when attempting to collect on a past due account. So why are we still being bullied by creditors?
Creditors are rarely governed and there is very little accountability in the ethical considerations of their jobs. Not to say all creditors are bad or mean, just that some often operate under a pounce and conquer mentality. They have many tricks to get their payments and often prey on the elderly, vulnerable or uneducated. Your best weapon to defend against a creditor is to know your rights. Creditors are due the payments on the debts you have incurred, but how they go about collecting those payments should follow certain guidelines.
Time For a Change
Guidelines set forth to manage creditors collection efforts include restrictions to time of day they can call your home, methods for obtaining debts, and information the creditor must provide you before they can collect on a debt. Some of the things creditors are not allowed to do:
1. Call you before 8 am or after 9pm.
2. Make false statements about your account, amount of the debt, who they work for and what they are trying to do by contacting you.
3. Harass or threaten you in any way.
4. Continue to contact you if you have provided a written letter requesting they no longer contact you.
5. Contact anyone else to obtain payment on your behalf, unless you have authorized an attorney to represent you.
Complaints about creditor’s collection efforts increase each year and was up 17% in 2010 from previous years. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) aims to protect consumers and provide jurisdiction over issues surrounding consumer’s rights in commerce. They handle issues surrounding economic dealings of consumers, including the receiving and investigating of complaints. People are pushing for more reform to the Debt Collection Law, asking the FTC to provide more governance and accountability for actions of credit agencies. Changes in technology have lead to an increased need for protection against collection efforts through email, mobile phones or texting. The FTC is also looking to require more action on the part of the creditor, where they must provide written documentation about the details of the collection to the debtor before any other collection attempt can be made.
For the full list of information about the guidelines for creditors and how the FTC is working to protect consumers, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.