Consumer protection lawyers like me are wrongfully trained to hate all debt collectors.
The reality is that if someone owes money, there needs to be a collection mechanism in place short of the court system.
Getting rid of debt collectors means that each time a bill is forgotten, the only reminder will come in the form of a court summons.
Clearly, that’s not a good idea. After all, people forget bills from time to time. They move and fail to leave a forwarding address, forget a small copay at the doctor’s office, or simply forget to make a payment because life’s hectic enough as is.
Debt collectors, in other words, serve a valuable purpose in our economy.
The problem arises when a debt collector decides that he or she would rather use threats or harassment to collect a debt. That’s no only rude, it’s illegal.
Federal and state laws concerning the collection of consumer debts don’t talk about the right to collect. The concern is the way in which collection occurs.
Collect the debt by calling and writing to someone in a respectful manner – as well as in a place and at a time that doesn’t disturb sleep or employment – and you’re good.
Tell the truth about the debt alleged to be due, and be prepared to back up your claims with proof.
Treat people the way your parents taught you, and you’ll be fine.
But step over the line into lies and deceit? Verbally or mentally abuse the people you’re calling? Use tricks to wring the last dollar out of someone who can’t afford it?
If you’re a debt collector and that’s how you do business, that’s illegal. More to the point, that makes you a bad person.
You serve no useful purpose in society.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
And with any luck, a lawyer just like me (if you harass someone in New York or California, it may be me) will show you the wrong end of a lawsuit.
Until then, ask yourself whether your parents would be proud of the way you treat people?
Image credit: ~John~
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Last modified: May 10, 2013