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Hi all

I need some advice on what I have found to be a very common scam where a collection agency buys an account that has been charged off and then tires to harass people into paying the debt.

This happened to my wife a few days ago, and I was asking around at work and there are people here that this has happened to.

Have any of you experienced this type of thing? I am looking for some advice, or a lawyer or agency that knows how to deal with these people so I can get this all taken care of.

Any help is greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance!!
<J>
 

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Do you actually OWE the debt?

Easy way to get this to go away is simply set up a payment plan with them, or pay the debt outright, if you can.

It's NOT harassment if you owe the debt, and more often than not the debt is not bought by the collection agency, the agency is hired or contracted by the original creditor to collect because they no longer want to devote their resources to the task. It's cheaper and easier to have someone else do it.

Now, if you feel you don't owe the debt, or if it's been paid, and you've told the collection agency so, AND can prove it, send the agency a cease and desist letter with a copy of said proof and if they call you again, THEN you have a case for harassment.

There are many MANY people that run up a debt, or simply decide they don't want to pay a bill and then want to sue a creditor or collection agency when they start asking the debtor for their money.

It's this simple, if you owe a debt any creditor, be it the direct biller or a collection agency on behalf of the biller, has EVERY RIGHT to try to collect. The only thing they can't do is call you repeatedly on a daily basis (if they have called AND talked to you about the debt, this is a contact, if they call and get no answer, or talk to no one about the debt, this is NOT a contact) and they can only make contact with you once a week. Depending on your state, that is. They also can not talk to anyone other than the person named on the debt, or their spouse. (In Massachusetts they can ONLY talk to the person named, in PA they can only talk to the spouse once).

Most of the time they can set up a payment plan to bring your account current for large debts, but again I must stress;

IF YOU OWE THE DEBT THIS IS NOT HARASSMENT!

I know I've said it a few times in this post, but this must be understood. If these calls did not take place, all too often people simply would not pay their bills. Sometimes a reminder is needed, sometimes people have fallen on hard times and the collection agency is often more flexible about how payment is rendered than the original creditor can/will be.

Would you rather they simply go right to a claims court and sue you for it before giving you every opportunity to pay on your own? If they sue you and it's proven you do owe the debt you'll not only pay what you owe, but interest, attorney's fees and court costs as well in most states.

I personally am out of work at the moment, have a ton of debt piled up and get daily calls from creditors and collection agencies . . . I'm polite, understand their job and the laws they must abide by, explain my situation and on some occasions, if I can, will make a small payment with them over the phone to show that I'm not just a dead-beat that doesn't want to pay his bills.

This is not a "scam" nor is there anything illegal about it, nor should there be.

Be thankful for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1973(?)

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm

Before this was passed into law it wasn't uncommon for collection agencies, and creditors alike to actually threaten bodily harm, threaten property and family and on some rare occasions forge checks or withdrawal forms and simply take the money owed from your account(s) with no recourse on your part simply because "well, you owed them so they did what they must to get their money."

And to address the idea of accounts that have been, "Charged off." This does not mean that the debt goes away; this simply means the creditor has reported the debt as severely over due and/or uncollectible.

Again, this does not mean the debt goes away or that agencies and/or the original creditor can not continue to attempt to collect.

This misconception that the debt "goes away" is often stated as fact by people not educated in consumer law.
I don't propose to be someone educated in law, but I had to learn quite a bit about the law that directs collections, since I worked at a collection agency for a time (partly caused my heart attack, that is NOT a fun job).

Read through the FDCPA and if the agency(s) that call(s) you violate even ONE of the provisions, absolutely contact an attorney, else you'll either have to send them a cease and desist request, in which case it will only apply to that collection agency, this will not prevent the creditor from hiring another agency, or in the case of a purchased account (again, this is rare these days), the collection agency selling said account to another agency, in which case the process starts over again with the need of sending the new agency a cease and desist request . . . which again does not prevent them from hiring (or selling to) another agency, and so on. As long as the debt is considered legitimate and unpaid.

Again, "charged off debt" does not translate to "forgiven debt," even if the debt is years old.

Oh, and on a lighter note, be glad you don't live in Jersey . . . a "collection agent" is a big guy named "Tony" or "Bruno" with a pillow case full of door-knobs that shows up at 10PM with three or four other guys with the same names . . . and they don't offer payment plans. :p

Mic
 

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I almost forgot one important thing;

Some people mis-use the term "charged off" to indicated they have filed for, and have been granted bankruptcy protection.

If this is the case, call an lawyer RIGHT NOW, they have violated bankruptcy laws and you can sue them.

BUT, this also does not actually always mean that the debt goes away. In some cases (secured cards, for example; any store card like Sears or Macy's) the debt is not erased if the creditor petitions the court.
You'll still owe that debt, the creditor will often either lower the amount owed, or will be more flexible about how payment is rendered depending on the agreement made during the bankruptcy hearing.

Mic
 

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if the debt is charged off and was included in with bankruptcy then they can't touch you and they are violating the law. it IS harrassment. i was in the same situation and they would not leave me alone. happened to friends of mine as well. i wrote up a nice letter with my attorney's info on it and that he will be the point of contact from here on out, as it should have always been. they called and called and NEVER left vmail...gee i wonder why. i would lock their phone number into my cell as jack!#* or NEVER ANSWER. they then tried calling from other numbers and i locked them as well. i would call and rip them apart a couple times cuz i couldn't resist. after a couple months, although tempting, i would never answer. i just disappeared. it worked. they are in violation and no matter what they say or do they can't come after you. good luck.
 

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RG_76 said:
Hi all

I need some advice on what I have found to be a very common scam where a collection agency buys an account that has been charged off and then tires to harass people into paying the debt.

This happened to my wife a few days ago, and I was asking around at work and there are people here that this has happened to.

Have any of you experienced this type of thing? I am looking for some advice, or a lawyer or agency that knows how to deal with these people so I can get this all taken care of.

Any help is greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance!!
<J>
As stated above that is inappropriate and illegal (IF your debt is 100% paid off), but they are fishing for dopes and probably get alot of $$$$.

You should look in the blue-pages of your Phone book for "county/state government" and find a consumer affair agency to call. It varies by state but this should get you some free help and paperwork to file as a complaint against the agency... glen
 
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