Dealing with Debt Collectors Debt Help

5 Ways Lenders and Debt Collectors Illegally Harass Consumers

Aaron Crowe
Written by Aaron Crowe

Getting a call from a payday lender or debt collector can be frightening. If you’re lucky, it will be a pleasant conversation on how you can repay the debt. But sometimes it can veer into areas that aren’t legal and are harassing.

In a new report highlighting how nonbank financial institutions are complying with federal consumer financial laws, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau details ways that consumers are being illegally harassed. Here are five of them:

Legal action threatened

When payday lenders called borrowers to collect debt, they sometimes threatened to take legal actions they did not actually intend to pursue, according to the CFPB. The federal agency’s examiners cited these threats as unlawful deceptive practices.

Other lenders threatened to impose additional fees or to debit borrowers’ accounts at any time, even though this wasn’t allowed by their contract. Examiners also found lenders lied about non-existent promotions to induce borrowers to call back about their debt.

Payday loans are frequently described as a way for consumers to bridge a cash flow shortage between paychecks or the receipt of other income. Payday loans often have small-dollar amounts, require borrowers to repay quickly, and ask that a borrower give lenders access to repayment through a claim on the borrower’s deposit account.

Debt collectors were also found to illegally threaten legal action. It’s estimated that there are more than 4,500 debt collection firms in the United States.

The CFPB found that debt collectors violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by filing lawsuits, which implied that they intended to prove their claims, when they had no such plans. The collectors typically dismissed the suits if consumers answered them because they were then unable to produce the documents to support their claims.

Excessive calls from debt collectors

CFPB examiners found that payday lenders called borrowers multiple times per day. When lenders failed to accurately track how many times they had called a borrower, it increased the risk of a borrower receiving excessive calls.

Examiners found that one debt collector had made approximately 17,000 calls to consumers outside of the appropriate times established by the FDCPA. That company further violated the law by repeatedly contacting more than 1,000 consumers as often as 20 times within two days.

Harassing borrowers at work

Examiners also found that employees of payday lenders would sometimes visit borrowers’ workplaces in attempts to collect debt. Such practices by lenders can violate the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition on unfair practices.

Harassment by third-party collectors

Many payday lenders hire third parties to collect their debts. The CFPB says it expects payday lenders — and all institutions subject to its supervision — to oversee their service providers to ensure they are complying with federal law.

Examiners found that third-party debt collectors misled borrowers in a variety of ways, including falsely claiming to be an attorney and making false threats of criminal prosecution. Third-party collectors also harassed borrowers by calling at unusual times.

Credit report disputes not investigated

Debt collectors often furnish information to consumer reporting agencies, which use it when compiling consumers’ credit reports. Debt collectors generally must investigate when a consumer disputes information they have sent to a consumer reporting agency.

Examiners found evidence that a debt collector was deleting disputed accounts rather than investigating such disputes, and examiners directed this collector to investigate disputes it receives regarding information it furnished.

Have you ever been called by a debt collector? How did the call go? Leave your response in our comments section below.

About the author

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance. He has been a writer and editor at newspapers and websites, including AOL's personal finance site WalletPop.com, WiseBread, Bankrate, LearnVest, AARP and other sites. Follow him on Twitter at @aaroncrowe, or at his website, www.AaronCrowe.net.

89 Comments

  • Do not talk to debt collectors. They are all professional liars. Do all debt collection correspondence in writing. It annoys them because it’s more work and also you have a trail. Also, keep a sports air horn next to the phone to blast calls that are not yours, or calls you have stated should not continue. I add all of our phones to the “no call list” about once a year and it’s a joke. Means nothing. One blast from the air horn right in the phone and NO one calls me offering “free vacations” any longer.

  • Hello, I am currently in a debt consolidation program where my one loan is being paid monthly just not the full amount that is due. The creditor is saying they will sue me and have been calling everyday all day long. To now they have showed up at my house demanding money! My question is can they still sue me if I am paying monthly? Just not the full amount? They are taking the money I am giving them. They just keep saying I’m behind and they will sue and then garnish my wages! This is all new to me and I don’t quite understand it all. Thanks for the help.

  • I’m on a disability and am not fit for employment at this time. I was late off because of seasonal employment. I owe money on a credit card which I payed frequently when I had solid employment. Today I have received 7 calls. I have said I will be when I have employment no problem still she continues to harass me. Is it even legal to call 4 times in less then an hour?

  • I had a collector call me 911 on my phone, since I had never seen a 911 call , I immediately answered it thinking that my husband or child was seriously hurt. So when I answered the call , the guy on the other end of the line identified himself as a sheriff and told me that he was coming to my job and home to have me arrested. I was so furious with him that I called him every name but the child of GOD and told him NEVER to call me again. Low and behold he calls again from a 911 number again and again. He called my phone that day about 30 times. But when he called the next day the caller ID showed all zeros i.e 000-000-0000 is this even legal?

    • Hi Shirley,

      According to the FTC, debt collectors are prohibited by law from harassing you with repeated phone calls or by misrepresenting themselves as law enforcement. If this debt collector continues to harass you, you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

      Abbey

  • My husband bought something in my name byt I returned it. I was not told there was a contract and a fee for early termination when I returned the items purchased. They had collections call me and I agreed to pay in payments. They put a dorrigatory on my credit report two days later. Is that fair? I have paid off the amount owing 6 months ago. How long will the dorrogatory stay on my credit report?

    • Hi Julie,

      If the account was sent to collections and they have accurately reported the information, then the debt collector is not violating any law or regulation. Most negative items stay on your credit report for 7 years from the first date of delinquency, but there are a few tactics you can try to use to have it removed earlier.

      You can learn more about removing negative items from your credit report here: https://thecreditsolutionprogram.com/staging/education/collection-accounts/

      Abbey

  • My husband is 72 years old and retired. I am 56 so we live on my income and his social security approx.($568.00)a month. We have been married 6 years. He has debt collectors calling for a medical debt that is over 10 years old. He won’t
    talk to the debt collectors.
    They have started calling me to or
    three times a day. They wont tell me any information because of privacy.I asked them not to call me but they continue to call.
    How did they get my number? My cell is only in my name. Can they harass me for a debt that is not mine?

    • Hi Julie,

      Debt collection services have the time and resources to aggressively collect debts–after all, that’s their whole business. However, you are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) against harassment, whether it is yours or your husbands.

      Some examples of harassment include:
      -repeated phone calls designed to annoy or harass you or whoever answers the phone
      -obscene or profane language
      -threats of violence

      They also can’t misrepresent themselves or tell you false information such as
      -the amount owed
      -claim they are an attorney or member of law enforcement
      -falsely threaten to have you arrested
      -threaten you with action they have no intention of doing

      If you request in writing or on the phone to have no further communication with them, they must respect your wishes and stop contacting you, with a few exceptions. If you feel that you are being illegally harassed by a debt collector, you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

      Abbey

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Yes, collection accounts are governed by statutes of limitations. Since they vary from state to state, you should check with your state’s attorney general’s office to see what the laws are for your specific state. This is information should be available right on their website, but you can also call them to verify.

      Abbey

    • I’ve written a few times about a predator situation from 2008! A well known bank CHOSE. The vehicle is now 12 year’s old. They did ALL of the above! Includes stealing money from my brother and forcing him awake at 4 a.m. and threatened to arrest him! Again it was way ling ago. I was never behind pants.
      I wish to get it registered but can’t get a duplicate title. They were forced to drop a charge off from my credit 9 years after! I can’t afford another attorney! They were punished by Consumer Credit Protection? Also FTC. Any suggestions? The Finance manager with the dealer is a buddy with the manager of Chase Auto. I always refused to pay at the local office for my protection I wired all payments Direct. What is left now? I’m on Retirement it’s not a lot.
      C. ROSE

      • Another concern is that I have 2 accounts showing collection for 8 years! I’ve disputed them so many times and lost count now! Finally the credit files were cleared. My score began to climb. Then come the 2 collections AGAIN! Says opened 2016. The notes were sold. They are not mine! Now waiting for time to run out backfired! Now my score dropped again! What now?

  • I have 1-2 calls every other day for a friend who used me as a reference when he purchased his vehicle .Can I sue these people for harassment they have been calling for some MONTHS now ,even though I have told them that I haven’t seen him, and when they find him tell him to call me that he owes me too !

    • Hi Donald,

      How annoying, to be harassed about a debt that isn’t even yours!

      You can tell them on the phone or in writing that you want no further communication with them. That should at least stop the harassing phone calls.

      Abbey

  • I had a car repossessed a few years ago, the company sent me notice of payments due that was not covered once the vehicle was sold. I did not have a problem paying it, however they required payment in full and I could not do that at that time, so it was turned over to a collection agency, and I started making payments to them for $100 a month for about a year, and I would call periodically to get a balance on the account. The balance was going down steadily, the another person started calling me about the account supposedly for the same agency but the balance had somehow gone up rather than down. Actually it was back up to the original amount owed, and when I asked about it he told me that interest has been added to the amount. I was never told at the beginning from the other man that I dealt with previously about any added interest payments. The balance was getting higher rather than receding. I don’t know what to make of this. Can you give me some insight into this.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      If you are uncertain of exactly how much you owe, and to whom you owe it, you can request that the collector sends you this proof in writing. If they are collecting this debt legitimately, they should be able to produce this. Request this validation in writing and send it Certified Mail, Return Receipt so that you have a record that they received your request.

      Abbey

  • A few months ago I received a call out of the blue from a supposed “process server” stating she was going to come to my job and house to serve papers as I am being sued. She left a number to call. I called the number who posed as a lawyers office and stated they were filing charges against me for a loan that was supposedly unpaid. I asked for the name of the loan company which they gave me. I called the loan company that I had a loan with many years ago who stated they had no balance for me and they had no idea what this was about. I called the company back and advised what I was told. The caller began to scream and yell at me and refused to talk with me any further. She kept saying she would see me in court over and over. I kept trying to get her to call the loan company but she would not. She hung up on me multiple times. I called back and she said I WAS HARRASSING HER!!! I told them I needed their address and fax number as I had all the receipts to prove I had paid off my loan years ago. She would not give it to me and stated “It is too late we will see you in court”. I was a wreck. I waited a few hours and called back getting the same person who said she was calling the company and she would get back to me. I have never heard another word from her. It has been months. About 2 months went by and I received the exact same type of call from a different place with all the threats. I reached out to the loan originator who stated this was a scam and to ignore these people. When they called back I told them what she said. They hung up on me and told me to stop harassing them! They kept me upset for weeks. There has to be a law against such horrible, abusive treatment.

    • Hi Amy,

      It’s bad enough to get harassing phone calls, but it’s even worse to get calls about a debt you don’t even owe! I’m glad you weren’t scammed into paying money to someone who didn’t have a right to it.

      Do you have any advice for others who think they may be being scammed?

      Abbey

  • if every one would record these illegal attempts to collect old debts and file a suite in federal court (each time they break the law ) is a 2500 dollar fine that you get from them. This would stop all of these collection agencies from buying these accounts for pennies on the dollar and adding collection charges on top of that.
    The problem would be solved and the companies that a person owed would have collect the debt or let it die, which is what our laws were designed to do.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the advice. Have you ever filed a suit against a debt collection agency? What was the outcome?

      Abbey

  • I cosigned for a second mortgage and a personal loan for my husband, my husband passed away last year and I ask them to put these debts in my name since he is deceased they said it wouldn’t be possible.when my husband was living I had his social security plus mine and the bills got paid now they call me 5 & 6 times a day starting in early am I think that if they can’t put these things in my name why should I have to pay them?

    • Hi Delores,

      Since you cosigned on the debt, you are responsible to pay it even though your husband is deceased. In a sense, they are in your name because you jointly agreed to pay the money back.

      Abbey

  • This just happened to me! I have an installment loan with a payday loan company. Due to my bank account being compromised I missed a payment. A couple of days after the payment was due this guy with a foreign accent called me at my job and said the police were coming to get me because I committed fraud and check bouncing. I was shocked, nervous, and didn’t know what to do so I made payments to them on some card they told me to buy and put it on. Well they were still calling me so I called the company I took the loan out with and they told me it was fraud and that they never received any payment on the one I missed. Right then, I paid it. Which meant I made two payments in one day. So I called the guy who was supposedly a lawyer and told hi I didn’t owe anything anymore because I paid it to the company. He was furious and proceeded to tell me how the police were coming to get me and all kind of stuff. All I know is I don’t owe anyone anything and I lost over $300 that I sent to whoever thinking it was for my account. I only have one more payment left on the loan and plan to never get one again from this company.

  • O wow. This is exactly what is happening to me. They are calling my work dating they are law enforcement. They are calling my family members. They say I owe 3000.00. They say they have a law suit against me. The one time I spike to a rep on the phone he was rude and obnoxious and just kept talking without end. He wanted me to pay over the phone and of course I didn’t but now after that I have something on my credit from them saying located consumer. So FYI NEVER answer these calls and verify Any info.

  • I have a bill collector that calls me even after we have agreed on a date to come in. Two to three different people call me 3 to to 5 times each. my voicemail is full of messages. Once we agree on a date, I just ignore them, so then they call my job and call the main number at my job and sometimes leave messages. I am having some unexpected expenses and my husband is a heart patient who is trying to get qualified for the heart transplant list, so I have am spending a lot of money traveling right now. I love for them to just ease up on the phone calls. I didn’t know it was not legal to call me so many times. I eventually pay them but they are very annoying.

    • Hi Annie,

      The one way to guarantee that a debt collector will not leave you alone is to ignore them. They have numerous resources to call you day and night indefinitely, whereas you only have yourself.

      If you plan on paying the debt, you may want to see if you can work out a payment schedule, or settle with them for what you can afford. Make sure you are fully aware of what this involves before you agree to anything. You can also contact them in writing and let them know that you want no further communication, but this will only stop the phone calls–you will still owe the debt and they could potentially take you to court to compel you to pay it.

      Abbey

  • I filed bankruptcy and included the payday loan in it. I still get threatening phone calls from the pay day loan company. This was over 8 years ago when I filed the Chapter 7. I just received an email from the lender asking me to verify my address so they could serve me papers.

    • If the debt was included in your bankruptcy, they cannot still try to collect it. You should inform them in writing that this debt was included, and include any evidence that you have of this. If you are represented by an attorney, advise them to contact your attorney instead of you.

  • How do u stop a collector from these illegal acts. I have been told by three different collection agencies that they were going to federally charge me and I know this is an old debt I have told them to go ahead a serve me yet they never have. I know this debt has been removed from my credit report but how do I get them to stop.

    • Hi Bertha,

      If you have decided that you don’t want to resolve the debt but you just want them to stop calling you, you can contact them in writing and tell them to stop contacting you. Print two copies of your letter and send one to the debt collector, Certified Mail, Return Receipt. This will give you a record that they have received it. Keep the other copy for your records. This does not get rid of the debt, but it does require them to stop contacting you, with two exceptions: 1) they can contact you to let you know that there will be no further communication, and 2) they can contact you to inform you that they are taking action on your account, like filing a lawsuit against you.

      Good luck!

  • These debt collector’s are a joke,when times were bad I settled every debt from 10-35 cents on the dollar.The only one I could not settle was American express,and I put them and their attorneys thru hell.Long story short I offered their attorney 65 cents on the dollar,told them if they didn’t take it I would claim bankruptcy,and that’s exactly what I did when they sued me.

    • If you could do it over, would you still choose to declare bankruptcy, or would you try to further negotiate with the lenders?

  • I have a student loan with Sallie Mae, I lost my home to foreclosure and while in the midst lost my job. I explained this to the reps time after time and they continued to call my cell phone multiple times everyday…I had to stop answering the phone. As well as one rep asked when I could make a payment, and that when I signed the contract it was a promise to pay no matter what happened in my life (cold hearted) told them I could start as soon as I was working again. Now 5 months have gone by I still haven’t been able to find a job.

    • Hi Tamara,

      Unfortunately these are for-profit companies whose only goal is to collect the money that you owe. They have this one goal in mind, and most of them don’t care why you owe the money, just that you owe it.

      If you are being harassed by collection calls, you can tell them on the phone or in writing that you want no further communication with them. That will at least give you some breathing room to get your affairs in order and start figuring out how to attack this debt and resolve it once and for all.

      Abbey

  • I dealt with a credit collector calling me at work, just started a new job after a serious divorce and custody battle. This collector didn’t seem to care when I said,please don’t contact me at work. I even gave her my personal phone number and offered to make small payment arrangements, it was for a computer I bought with Bestbuy card (HSBC) five years ago, I didn’t even have it anymore. I owed $200 on it and this third party debt collector from Montana was calling me everyday at work saying unless I made 3 $100 a month they’d sue me and make me pay for the court costs. I’ve heard a rumor that lobbyists are trying to push law makers to allow debt collectors to deduct money from the paychecks of those who may owe debt. So basically these debt collectors will have less steps and moat likely less proof to show in order to do this. The question I think we all should be asking is if we can’t trust these debt collectors to be honest themselves, why would this work ? I’ve even had things I don’t owe put on my credit. I have disputed false credit discrepancies and it seems that the huge companies always win over us “little guys”.

    • Hi Nicole,

      If a lender sues you in court for the unpaid balance and wins, they can legally garnish your wages. This process is usually not particularly quick or easy, but it is definitely possible. It is unfortunate that some debt collectors use dishonest tactics to try to intimidate people into paying, however the easiest way to get the calls to stop is take action on the amount you owe.

      If you can cut your budget somewhere else and use that money to finally get rid of this debt, it may be worth it to stop receiving harassing calls at work.

      You can also contact the lender or collection agency in writing to notify them that you don’t want to receive any further communication from them. This will not get rid of the debt, but it can at least help you get through the day without having to fear frequent phone calls from debt collectors.

      Abbey

  • I still have a debt that I have been carrying since the nationwide financial breakdown several years ago. I had a home there that I was unable to keep up the payments on due to a job loss. It finally went to a short sale at a total loss and the loan, which was made for repairs/upgrades to help in the sale of the home, was not settled. I currently live in a home that was built as a vacation home and mostly paid for before the recession, but my only source of income is social security. At my age of 77, I am sure I will never be able to pay the loan off even at a reduced amount and have been paying the sum of $25.00 monthly when I could. The account has passed from one collection agency to another and the current one is not giving up – I get monthly calls for my $25.00 payment, but they have not to date threatened legal action. Since I have no assets other than my home, can they do anything against me if I am unable to pay the loan off?

    • Hi Ed,

      If the statute of limitations on the debt has not yet expired, the lender may can sue you for the unpaid debt and file a lien against your home. It is unlikely that they would be able to garnish your social security income, especially if you keep it in a separate account. These are all serious consequences, and you should try to avoid them if at all possible. You may want to consider selling your home to pay off the debt and end the battle with the debt collectors once and for all. You may even be able to settle it for less than the full amount, and finally be able to be done with it.

      If you are able to downsize to a smaller home or apartment, it may be worth it for you peace of mind. The debt collection practice can start off gentle, but it is unlikely that they will give up anytime soon.

      Abbey

  • I’ve had a credit card company use an agency to call me for a credit card that I paid off in 1999.
    I explained that I paid off that balance and since then have two accounts with that credit card company. It turned into an argument when the agent was accusatory and I promptly stated that they needed to check their records with the credit card company.

  • Can you sue these collectors for these phone calls? Some of them are violating the law. It seems like you should be able to.

    • If a debt collector is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you do have the right to sue. If you win, the collector generally has to pay your attorney’s fees along with damages.

      The FDCPA specifies harassment as:
      -Repetitious or harassing phone calls that are intended to annoy or abuse you or any person who answers the phone
      -Use of obscene or profane language
      -Threats of violence or harm
      -Publishing lists of people who refuse to pay their debts
      -Calling you without telling you who they are
      -Calling you early in the morning (before 8 am) or late at night (after 9 pm)

  • Back in 2005-2006 I was a victim of identity theft, and here now years later I am being contacted by a collection agency (Midland Credit Management to be exact) trying to collect on a student loan that was incurred apparently in 2005 according to them. I’m 52 years old now, and I have not even attended any type of school since the early 90’s, and that was while in the military… I haven’t attended a “civilian” school since 1987! This Midland Credit Management company is relentless! I have tried to discuss with them that I was a victim of identity theft during the time this debt was incurred, and even got into a heated conversation with a VERY rude person from MCM about it – yet they continue to call, repeatedly! I have even had to block them from calling me on my cell phone… is there anything I can do about these people? I have noticed that Midland Credit Management has been sued MANY times and even fined by the federal government for illegal collection practices.

    • Hi Scott,

      If you have not already done so, you should check your credit report to make sure that this debt is not appearing on there. Getting calls from debt collectors is one thing, but having this mark negatively affect your credit is even more serious.

      You can notify the agency in writing that you do not want to receive any further communication from them. Send it Certified Mail, Return Receipt so that you have a record that they received it, and keep a copy for yourself as well. If you have any evidence that this debt does not belong to you, you should send that along with the letter.

      After they receive this, the debt collector cannot contact you again except 1) to tell you that there will be no further contact, 2) let you know that it may take further action against you as permitted by law, such as sue you for the unpaid debt.

      If they continue to contact you after receiving the letter, then they are in violation of the law. You can file a complaint against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

      Abbey

  • Ive had people call me saying they are an attorney and they are going to call my employer. Accusing me of bank fraud in 200I. I asked them to send documentation, ive not received it. I relayed to them that they were a fraud and their response was I will see you in court and I was looking forward to it. Have not received any documentation but still get the calls I dont respond to them anymore.

    • Hi Flora,

      Beware–if the statute of limitations on the date has not expired, the lender can indeed sue you in court for the amount you owe and, if they win, you can be required to hand over a portion of your wages to them every payday. This will also result in a judgement that will show up on your credit report and completely trash your score.

      Now, the collection agency may be bluffing, but I doubt that’s a risk that anyone really wants to take. Do what you can to settle this debt out of court, or you may end up paying a much higher price later.

      Abbey

  • I have been called by a debt collector who bought my social security number from the company. They read it to me over the phone. They have called me numerous times during the day and well into the evening. Sometimes after 8:00 p.m.

  • I recently had a collection agency call me concerning some medical bills. I asked for proof of what they were trying to collect. She said they did not have this info and again asked for my payment information. I told her I refused to pay for something that I had no proof that I owed. She told me I would need to contact the medical provider and ask them which accounts had been placed with a collection agency. I told her that was not my job and if she wanted me to pay her I needed proof of what I was paying. I have not heard back from her. I refuse to pay a bill that I can not verify that I owe.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Does this item show up on your credit report? It’s great that you were able to get the debt collector to stop contacting you, but you should also make sure the unpaid item isn’t lurking on your report and hurting your score.

      If they cannot validate this debt in writing within 30 days of your request, they are required to remove it from your report entirely.

      Abbey

  • I think the article is great, however you should not just warm about how collectors illegally harass consumers and break certain federal laws you should also provide information/ links to consumer rights! Where, which department of authority or agency we can go to file a complaint or obtain rights. Resources really help when you are posting articles! Your article is part informative and part useless without a solution. If this is how you publish all your articles,I would not waste time reading any others. Point is, readers, consumers, people in general like being informed but they also need/want to know what they can do. How will it ever stop, if these agencies harassing and breaking laws are never reported? I understand this program you have is to help people with their credit, but remember credibility goes so much further when consumers/ readers/ potential clients are provided what actions they can take legally to file complaints through federal and states while they pursue services to get out of debt, such as utilizing a program as yours.

    • Hi Shelly,

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention–we want to give our readers as much help as possible.

      If you feel that you are being illegally harassed by a debt collector, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

      Once the complaint is filed, the CFPB sends it to the collection agency and they have 15 days to respond. According to the CFPB website, most claims are settled within 60 days.

      I hope this helps!

      Abbey

  • 11 years ago I filed Bankruptcy, I was having a very hard time financially being laid off, I took a Payday loan out for two hundred dollor’s and sadly I had to file it in Court. The Third Party’s still call me with all above mentioned in Letter. They called my Landlird a few months back and I was amazed at how they got her number as I get no mail there. I was amazed !

    • Hi Anita,

      The problem with payday loans is that the fees and interest rates that they come with can quickly add up to such a crazy amount that there is no way you could possibly keep current with the payments.

      How much did you end up owing for the original $200 loan?

      Abbey

  • For over a year now, I have received phone calls from a man claiming to be representing the Attoney Generals office and threatens to press charges and notify my employer of what ive done. I saved the voicemails and emails from these. The debt they claim ive got isnt anything ive done. The calls started shortly after applying for online payday loans. They obtained all my identifying info sounding as though they were legitimate, but I was never approved for any payday loan so I know for a fact that its a scam. The man gets angry and rude. I just laugh and hang up now. Im getting ready to file a claim with IC3 (Federal Bureau of Investigation and National White Collar Crime Center).

  • A collection agency has been calling my phone 5-1- ten times daily from morning to late hours in the evening. I don’t answer the call most of the time. What Can I do a out it. I am paying my debt thrrough a benefit garnishment from my Social Security benefits already every month.

    • Hi Alfredo,

      You can tell the debt collectors that you want no further communication with them. If this doesn’t work by phone, tell them in writing. They are required by law to stop contacting you, besides 1) telling you that there will be no further communication, and 2) letting you know that they will be taking further action on collecting the debt, like filing a lawsuit.

      Abbey

  • I was threatened with a warrant for my arrest.
    They call my elderly parents and other family members with threats

  • I am currently getting harassment calls they willl call on my personal line my cell phone and my mother home phone all at the same time it shows up as out of area or of a town that no that I know lives at and it is always a prerecorded message . I do not answer out of area or private or toll free calls and if it is a prerecorded message I do not return calls

  • I Received notification that a law firm was trying to subpoena me.and serve me at work. When I called them, they stated that I owed Discover card $1360 including interest and they were about to file to garnish my wages for $4300 including legal fees unless I agreed to pay the balance. Is this legal? Can they garnish my wages like this?

    • Hi Rochelle,

      Yes, credit card companies can garnish your wages if they receive a judgement against you in court. When you receive a credit card, you physically or electronically sign an agreement in which you promise to make monthly payments for whatever you owe. If you breach this contract by failing to make payments, the credit card company has a right to sure you in court to get their money, and taking your wages is one of the ways that they can do this.

      You can avoid wage garnishment by settling your debts out of court or declaring bankruptcy–although both of these have some pretty big drawbacks, they may be good options for your current situation. Do your research to see what the best choice is for you, but whatever you do make sure you take some action and don’t deny the inevitable.

      Abbey

  • I was harassed over a period of two years regarding the only payday loan I have ever had. I repaid the loan completely at 50% interest in 3 months, PLUS a loan origination fee I was never told about. I started to get emails and phone calls telling me that the money I had paid were only service fees, and not payment on the principal and interest. I told them to look at the agreement and the money I paid.
    They automatically withdrew some additional funds that I did not authorize, so I reported it to the bank, the bank credited the withdrawal and I closed the account, reopening a new one at the same bank.
    But phone calls continued by a variety of people, some sounding professional, some threatening, and some folksy. They always alerted me to their intended actions to file suit and collect in court. I repeatedly told them to check their records on my account which was paid in full and if anyone was going to be taken to court it was I who would take them. To a 70 year old woman, this situation was extremely stressful, and I daresay may have killed someone not so physically and mentally hardy as I.
    I reported them to our local police twice in the nearly two years of harassment to have official documentation of what was happening. The advice from the Police Dept was to tell them I had reported them, then end the conversation. It worked.

    • Wow, it’s amazing to hear all of the hard and soft tactics debt collectors have used. Have you heard from them since you filed the police reports?

  • Several years ago, my wife and I consolidated all credit card debt just before the credit “crash”. (All are now paid off) A collection agency actually used Google maps, found us, and contacted our neighbor via phone to give us a note that in essence said, “Please settle your debt.” I told the neighbor that she had better not do this again unless she wanted in on the legal action that was to ensue. Don’t know if this is a new tactic. But, goes to show they will go to any length to get you. Also, the collector was very obnoxious.

  • Debt collectors are in the game for one thing – profit! Fresh debts paid to creditors are around 25 or 30 cents on the dollar if that. Fortunately for us, they have no power to collect anything. If you happen to owe back taxes, then the IRS has a lien filed against you. It’s not a good situation to be in, but it works to your advantage if you owe other monies. If you tell a debt collector you owe back taxes, they’ll leave you alone. The IRS is always first in line, and they’ll cut to the head of the line, too. Everyone else has to wait.

    • Hi Gary,

      Tax liens are very serious, and eventually allow the IRS to seize your property, and even take the money owed from your deposit accounts. The IRS is the toughest, most powerful creditor that you can possibly have, and you should avoid owing them back taxes if at all possible.

      Abbey

  • There seems to me in dealing with collection companies, that they list the date of the debt from the
    date the list it on the credit agency report. This provides them with a longer time to keep it on your
    report. There were three of these on my credit report that were way out dated!!!!!!An these were the companies that were harassing my phone!!!!!Any thing that is seven years old from time of service is
    out dated must be removed, and must be removed from your report, and is uncollectable by law!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    often times this listing can be a year or two after the service!!!!!!

    • Hi John,

      Actually, just because a debt has exceeded the statute of limitations or has dropped off of your report, that does not mean that it’s uncollectible. You still owe that money and they are still entitled to try to collect it. When a debt exceeds the statute of limitations, it only means that the lenders can no longer sue you for it in court. When a debt reaches 7 years from the date it went into collections, it should no longer show on your credit report, but it does still exist. They can still try to collect it from you.

      If you think that you have items on your report that are outdated and should be removed, inform the credit reporting agencies in writing. They are required to remove all inaccurate information on your report.

      Abbey

    • The date is not from the time of service. It is from when the original creditor closed the account (which is usually 3 months after date of service), or the date of last payment, which always resets the date. That’s why creditors always hound you to make a small “good faith” payment, because it resets the clock for them.

  • You can also report any harassment to your local states attorney’s office, and file a complaint. Most people run like hell when the state gets involved, because it can mean that the state can restrict the company’s operations in your home state. So let them know what is happening.

  • Anybody know of a good lawyer? They have followed me to wk for over a year !! And everywhere I go!! Plus other illegal tactics….even though I asked them to allow me to make smaller payments when this bill was still current

    • Hi Dee,

      What other illegal tactics have you experienced from debt collectors on the past? Are these issues still ongoing?

      Abbey

  • I was contacted by a collection agency for an account that I do NOT remember having, so I asked for the running account and charges so I could try and verify if mine, they told me they could not supply anything but the balance due or a statement, I wanted the individual charges, they told me to contact the original creditor, I did that and they said to get the info from the collection agency, that’s why they hired them, The calls keep coming but never ever proof of purchase(s) . Also another company, runs my credit report once or twice a MONTH and it’s really smacking the heck out of my report. I feel they are doing this to make sure I can’t get ahead or make any progress….please advise what do I do??? Thank you

    • Hi Shona,

      Do you communicate with the collection agency in writing? Doing this instead telephone communication can sometimes give them more accountability, allow you to organize your thoughts on paper, and give you a record of everything you and the agency have said to each other. You can write them asking them to provide sufficient information proving that they are legally collecting this debt from you. You can tell them that if they are unable to send you this proof, they must remove the debt from your credit report (this is within your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      As far as the inquiries are concerned, check to see if they are “hard” or “soft.” A hard inquiry is one that is authorized by you, usually when you apply for a new credit card or open a new bank account. Although they don’t affect your credit score as much as other factors, they can cause a temporary ding. Soft inquiries are not authorized by you, and are usually run by companies who want to send you “pre-approved” offers for new lines of credit. The good thing is that these do not affect your credit. Look at the inquiries on your report–if there are hard inquiries that you did not recognize, use the same validation request to prove that you authorized them or have them removed.

      Abbey

  • I made contact with an agency assigned to collect on a debt I was unaware of, due to a move. I had offered to pay in 3 $78.00 installments. 2nd pymt was not able to do because my checking acct had been illegally charged to. I called my credit agency guy, said understood & ask I cont. pymts as soon as can. 2 weeks later he filed a “seriously delinquent” on my credit report. Is this legal, Atersll, I am making every effort.

  • Last year a man came to my house, asked me if “I” lived in the residence, and served me legal documents. Apparently, I was being sued in local court by a debt-collector and law office. The letter stated that if I did not call them to address the debt then I judgement would be filed against me. I panicked and called them to make payment arrangements, even though the reason I had to stop paying this debt was because the company that I worked for laid me off, and I was left jobless for a few months, and have not yet recovered. A few months later I receive a similar letter from another debt-collecting law office threatening the same thing, but this one I just could not afford, so I let it pass, fearing that they could take the debt out of any profit if I ever sold my house, or something to that effect. I’ve never seen this level of cohersion from debt-collectors. My girlfriend tells me that I should just file for bankruptcy, but even that costs more than what I can afford at the moment. It’s quite nerve racking.

    • Hi Martin,

      Many of our readers have shared with us how stressful it is to deal with debt collectors, so you are not alone in this. Bankruptcy can be the best option for some people, but you should not be pressured into filing if you don’t feel like it’s the right thing for you to do.

      The problem is, debt collectors usually don’t give up very easily, so until you take some action they will probably not leave you alone. You may be able to settle your debt for less than the full amount–although this will trash your credit in the short term, you will no longer have to deal with harassment from collection agencies.

      Evaluate what the best option is for you, and start to work on it. Once you have a plan in action, you can start to relieve yourself of some of the stress that you have right now.

      Good luck!

      Abbey

  • I always check my credit report for errors, dispute them and they are removed. After getting my report recently, I saw that there are two new debts reported that were not on my reports before (all three bureaus) however I am not sure how to dispute them, The debt was reported as being opened in 2012, this is not right, I do acknowledge that the debt is mine it originated in 2008 not 2012, they were bills in my name that my ex husband was to pay but did not. I tryed to negotiate a payment plan with the original debt collector but they refused my efforts. I am assuming the debt has been sold again since it has shown up with a new date? Should I dispute it again because the original debt date they have is wrong? Will it be removed from my report, since they are not the original debtor can they be made to correct the date at least? There has been a lesson learned by me as well… NEVER EVER let anyone purchase anything in your name, trusting that they will repay you. I should add that I was living in South Carolina where the limit on debt collection is 3 yrs versus the six yrs in CT where I now live. I do know that the items will remain on my reports or 7 years. Any input will be appreciated

    • Hi Roseann,

      These are all great questions, and many of our other readers find these issues confusing as well. I deferred to the expertise of our staff writer John Ulzheimer to get the nest answers, which I can share:

      “The ‘open’ date on a collection doesn’t actually mean that the original account was opened on that date. On a collection the Open date is the date the debt was assigned to the collection agency or purchased by a debt buyer.

      If anything is wrong with the collection they have an obligation
      under Federal law to correct it. But, if you dispute an item that isn’t actually incorrect, like perhaps that Open date, then it will likely come back as verified as accurate and remain on the file.

      The 3 and 6 years you’re referring to [as the statutes of limitations on debt collections in the two different states] are actually limitations on how long the debt collector can sue you to collect the debt, not how long they can attempt to collect the debt otherwise. After that time has expired the debt becomes ‘time barred’ unless you make a payment or promise to make a payment and then that can cause the time to start over. But yes, in no condition and under no circumstance can the collection be reported to the credit reporting agencies longer than 7 years from the date the original account went into default.”

      I hope that helps clear up some of the confusion–thanks for reaching out and let us know how your credit repair efforts work out!

      Abbey

      • Well, this credit card debit they said I owed was back in 1990 or somewhere around there. This car , Van I had, I had a buyer for it and the day before the buyer was to come by and pay me the full amount I owed, Wells Fargo called and said they did not want me to sell it. Picked it up, and sold it for over $3000. Then they are wanting me to pay the full $6000 on it. I tried to get them to add it into my Van I got through them also. They said No! They keep sending me letters over and over and over. I tried to do it cause they even told the Dealership to tell me to sell it. So, I tried, and they don’t like it. I don’t feel I should pay on it since they refused the full amount.
        Shirley

    • I would wait until the 7 year mark and then dispute it, because then they cannot put it back on your credit. I would suggest you include in the disput the two facts. This debt was not yours (it was your exes), and that it was more than 7 years old and should not be showing on your credit report. Make sure to dispute on all THREE credit reports, because they may send it to the one that you did not dispute with. The date goes from the most recent of either when the last payment was made or when the original debtor closed the account (not likely 4 years later). That’s why creditors try to get you to make at least a small “good faith” payment. It resets the clock for them to collect the debt.

  • I recently received a letter from a debt collector about something that happened 9 years ago. I called them and explained that I never had a loan with the company they represented but they insisted I did and that they were willing to negotiate the balance down to less than half if I gave them my banking info right away or the price of the negotiations would go up. They never produced any proof that I even owed them the debt. After researching the issue online I found a letter asking for proof that I owed them the money and the phone calls stopped.

    • Unfortunately, not all lenders are as honest as others, and rely on intimidation to collect funds that may not even be owed to them. It’s important to remember that you always have a right to ask debt collectors to show you proof that you actually owe them what they claim you do.

      What type of debt was this that they were trying to collect from you?

      • I know that all too well. This one ARA or something like that called me and said they were a law office and was starting a law suit and I was being sued. They even said it was about my other Van that I let go back to Well Fargo, because the car place wouldn’t take it as a trade in. They said one thousand dollars and I would be free of it, and nothing more to be paid. I did get over 50 calls a day on this. So I paid it. Then SRA called and said I have not paid anything on this Van. I told them that I did, and the lady said all I had to pay was the $1000. I sent fax on the bank statement and ARA called and said it was on a Credit card that I never had, but saying things about the Van, lady called me a liar and hung up on me.She never said it was for a credit card, she kept say Then I got a letter saying now I owe $14,000 on this credit card. I never had one.

    • There is also a statute of limitations on debts that are charged off. Check your state. I got sucked in by a debt collector 11 years after the charge off. Unfortunately I didn’t check my statute of limitation and agreed to pay it back. I was told that it was reopened when I agree to pay it. Otherwise, I could have said no. Michigan has a 6 year statute of limitations on collections for credit cards. 🙁

      • There are some ways around the statute of limitations, including getting to admit you owe the debt. If you are unsure of how to avoid this, or worry about being intimidated into admitting the debt, you can notify the debt collector in writing that you want no further communication, or that you want them to only communicate with you in writing. This is one way you can avoid accidentally admitting to something you otherwise wouldn’t.

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