Fortunately, at least a small percentage of consumer debt-buying firms are learning that they better watch out how they treat people if they want to avoid having penalties imposed against them by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). In fact, a small number of these firms are now having to pay large sums of money because the CFPB says they have “repeatedly brought improper debt collection actions” against consumers. Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC recently reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requiring it to pay $300,000 in fines – and to stop pursuing specific types of claims against certain New York borrowers. Likewise, Sherman Financial Group LLC must pay $175,000 in regards to a separate settlement agreement that also requires it to stop trying to collect millions of dollars tied to specific types of consumer debts. (Both sums of money include civil penalties and costs.)
What Types of Wrongful Debt Collection Practices Were These Companies Committing?
- Debts whose recovery deadlines had passed. These companies were harassing debtors after obtaining default judgments against them – even in cases when they knew they no longer had a legal right to pursue them under state statutes;
- Misstating the amounts owed. If you want to see some “fancy math,” you might want review some of the illegal, “added” fees some debt collection agencies try to add to lower debt amounts owed – even when they know what they're doing is unlawful;
- Providing misinformation to consumers about how their debts might affect their credit scores;
- Using intimidating or harassing tactics to try and force poor debtors to immediately repay all or part of what they allegedly owe.
What You Must Do If Contacted by a Debt Collector
Always remember that you have the right to immediately receive a statement, in writing, clearly indicating all that you allegedly owe. Be sure to make this request when first contacted by the debt collector. Also, request a copy of any default judgment you're being told has been obtained against you. Next, contact your Peachtree City consumer protection attorney for his advice about how you should proceed under the circumstances.
Every American has the right to remain free of any harassing contact made by debt collectors. If you believe you’re being treated in an abusive manner, your Peachtree City lawyer may need to file a lawsuit under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) in order to fully protect your rights and obtain any compensation that may be owed to you.
If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.