collection turns into harassment
I have one claim against me. Collection agency "A"
sends me a demand letter. I send back my dispute notice. That agency
then sells my account to Collection Agency "B" which restarts
the whole pattern again. Every six months I have to stop what I'm
doing to reply to a new collection agency. When is a "no"
a "no"? Why do I have to keep sending out letters? It
has been over four years and I've sent seven letters. The claim
is for $40. I've spent $10 responding. When does it become harassment?
FYI, I have contacted my state attorney general. Their response
now is that I have to file a new complaint against each new agency
even though the agencies keep swapping the same claim. I have no
doubt the collection agencies feel that if they harass me enough
I will eventually pay (this latest agency called me three times
in a four-hour period). I've dug in my heels. I will never pay this
wrongful debt. -- Pat
So far, all the things you have been doing are the right ones. The
problem is that the guys on the receiving end aren't listening.
At first I thought that you could get some relief by going back
to the original creditor, but if the debt has been sold and after
four years you're still fighting it, I doubt that you'd have any
Debt Collection Practices Act affords you the right to dispute
the debt. And you have done that in writing; and many times, to
no avail. Your attempt to get the attorney general involved was
sound, but didn't work either. So, here's my suggested course of
action. The next time you get a phone call from the collector, be
sure to get all of their contact information -- name of collector,
company, address, etc. If it's a letter, the information probably
will be on it.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
This agency enforces the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act. The FTC may be contacted by mail at Consumer Response Center,
Washington, D.C., 20580-0001, or by telephone at (877)-FTC-HELP,
or online at www.ftc.gov.
Although they don't respond to individual cases, yours might help
identify a pattern on which they might follow up. The real benefit
to you may be when you send the collector a copy of your complaint
and he has to bring it to his boss's attention, the company might
reconsider harassing you.
The other thing I would suggest is that you get an
attorney to help. There are two approaches you may want to try:
First, I know that for $40 you can't afford much of a defense, but
there are class action attorneys out there who look for patterns
of abuse, rather than the size of an individual case, and might
have an interest in your case without charging you. Second, if the
big guns aren't interested in your case, you might try the Legal
Aid Society or your neighborhood Legal Assistance Office. The phone
numbers for the local Legal Assistance Office are usually found
in the white pages of your local telephone directory.
For my readers who may not be aware, you have the
right to dispute a debt collection in writing within 30 days of
the first notice by mail or phone. The collector, by law, must then
stop any collection processes and verify the debt. If the debt is
verified, the collector must mail to you the documents verifying
Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Money Management International
Financial Education Foundation. Visit MMI
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