So, it turns out that when you are really good at something you should continue doing it. In this case, debt collectors are really good at having complaints filed against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to this story, debt collection makes up 39% of all complaints to the CFPB.
(As an aside, some in the consumer protection field expect there to be at least one bill, if not more, trying to get rid of the CFPB or at least make it less powerful. This has a chance of passing. If it does, expect debt collection complaints to go up as there will be no governmental agency trying to fend off debt collectors. And, according to this story, debt collectors are getting more aggressive in suing attorneys who are representing consumers. Based on this, it would be harder to find someone willing to fight the debt collectors!)
From the CPFB press release: “Today’s report shows that consumers continue to report being harassed about debts they already repaid or debts they do not owe,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a press release announcing the results. “The bureau will continue to work to ensure that consumers are not being wrongly pursued by debt collectors.”
Yes, debt collectors are still going after debts that are not owed, have been paid, or are otherwise uncollectable. A client recently came to me after receiving a letter from a debt collector. In response to me, the collector admitted that the debt is uncollectable. Yet, if they could have obtained money from the consumer, they would have taken it!
The three companies the bureau received the most average monthly complaints about are Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc., Encore Capital Group and ERC. PRA is notorious in the debt collection world for the number of calls they make. Encore is the parent group of Midland Funding, among others.
The only response to deal with a debt collector harassing you is to fight back. Make sure you know your rights. Demand validation of the debt – in writing. Tell them, in writing, that they can not call you. And, if they continue to harass you, then you need to talk to an attorney.
Better yet, as soon as you get a letter from a debt collector, talk to an attorney!