Creditor harassment still a rampant problem in U.S.

As some De Soto County residents likely know, credit card debt has a unique way of spiraling out of control. Unlike educational debt, one generally doesn't go into credit card debt in the hopes of earning a lucrative income afterwards. Unlike mortgage and automotive debt, credit card debt often involves items that can't be sold for much value if money gets tight. Finally, the easily-accessible piece of plastic sitting in most Mississippians' wallets is all too tempting when cash is not at hand.

Of course, when one maxes out their credit cards and falls behind on payments, sooner or later, a debtor is likely to encounter debt collectors. Debt collection is big business nowadays, thanks to the recession and an economy that holds few guarantees. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, approximately 30 million Americans were involved in some sort of debt collection in 2012. When one has an account in collections, it's important to know what collectors can and cannot legally do.

Debt collectors must give debtors some sort of written notice that the debt is owed. In addition, if the debt is questioned by the person who receives the notice, collectors also must provide verification of the debt. In addition, debt collectors cannot use profanity or otherwise threatening language in order to intimidate a person into paying a debt. Furthermore, debt collectors cannot call debtors in the early morning or late night hours, nor may they harass a debtor's friends, family or neighbors.

Since 2010, the Federal Trade Commission has collected over $56 million from collection agencies in the form of penalties for violating these collection laws. The FTC also gets more complaints about collectors than they do about other industries.

Declaring personal bankruptcy is one way of putting an end to creditor harassment. If one doesn't owe much money, it may be possible to work out a deal with creditors independently. Still, with collection agencies not playing by the rules and with many individuals owing more than they can repay in a timely manner, it may be beneficial to enlist an attorney's help in stopping harassment once and for all.

Source: The Los Angeles Post Examiner, "Debt collectors: What are their legal limits?" Charles Pekow, Aug. 11, 2014

Source: The Los Angeles Post Examiner, "Debt collectors: What are their legal limits?" Charles Pekow, Aug. 11, 2014

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