Debt Collector Threaten To Report You For Theft? Guess What?! That Just Might Be Criminal

01 Sep Debt Collector Threaten To Report You For Theft? Guess What?! That Just Might Be Criminal

Facts:   Creditor states “if you don’t make an electronic payment over the phone right now, I will report you to the Sheriff for Theft of my goods.”   Debtor:  “No, no, I will pay you; here’s my bank information.”

Hmmmmmmm…..who should really be worried at this point?  Do you really even owe the debt?   Jay Fleischman, a New York bankruptcy attorney, recently wrote about West Virginia warning against debt collectors calling apparently random folks threatening unbelievable consequences if a debt is not  paid immediately.

So, let’s look at the rule and see if the facts fit the crime: Oregon Revised Statute 164.075 states that Theft by extortion is when

(1) A person commits theft by extortion when the person compels or induces another to deliver property (TO TRANSFER MONEY VIA ELECTRONIC PAYMENT) to the person or to a third person by instilling in the other a fear that, if the property is not so delivered (if the transfer is not made right now) , the actor or a third person will in the future: (not right now, but says that they will do something tomorrow, or the next day, or the next….)

(a) Cause physical injury to some person;  (okay, that doesn’t fit this particular example, but it would for other phone calls I have heard about)

(b) Cause damage to property;  (our example does not fit there but it would in other phone calls I have heard about)

(c) Engage in other conduct constituting a crime;

(d) Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against the person; DING DING DING and ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner…..the creditors phone call constitutes the crime of theft by extortion….)


(2) Theft by extortion is a Class B felony.

What should you do if a creditor or debt collector is threatening you in this manner?   First, call an experienced debt collection attorney.   Second, if you can’t find a civil attorney, then consider calling the sheriff to report that you have been the victim of a crime (if your state has a similar statute).  Write letters to the media if no one takes you seriously.

It is time for debtors to demand protection from criminal acts, whether the acts are committed by those who look like criminals or those who look like creditors.

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I'm a consumer protection lawyer in Oregon, working with people in Klamath; Lake; Jackson; Josephine; Curry; and Deschutes County. I speak regularly on bankruptcy and consumer protection issues nationwide.
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