Dealing With Collection Agencies
Nobody finds themselves considering bankruptcy unless they have been subjected to the unrelenting harassment of creditors and their pit-bulls, the collection agencies. To be fair, a creditor has the right to contact you concerning your debts and your intent to repay that debt. What I have seen, however, is that the tactics used by the creditors and collection agencies is frequently way beyond normal reminder calls about late payments. Instead, these people who call and call and call are using a form of psychological torture to extract payments.
Know Your Rights
There is a law that governs the way creditors and collection agencies can communicate with you concerning the debts. It's called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(the FDCPA). Under the FDCPA, creditors are not allowed to lie, they are not allowed to call you an "unreasonable" number of times and they are not allowed to communicate information about your debt to third parties. Unfortunately, collection agencies hire people who don't know or don't care about the law and they will use lies, bullying and all sorts of outrageous tactics in an attempt to extort a payment out of you. Oh boy, I could tell you some stories about outrageous things that have happened to my clients at the hands of collection agencies. I bet you have some stories you could share too.
You do have rights to sue a creditor or collection agency that has violated the FDCPA but it's not cheap or easy. You have to hire a consumer rights attorney, keep all your evidence of the violations, and wait months and months or years for the court process to give you justice. If you don't have the time, money or interest in suing a collection agency or creditor for violating the FDCPA, but you still want to take some kind of action against them, you can file a complaint against the agency
at the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) website. (Note, the website isn't that easy to navigate, you have to scroll down a bit to get to the complaint form.) The Federal Trade Commission won't resolve your individual issue or take any action on your behalf, but by reporting the company that's breaking the law you raise red flags against that company. If enough people report a particular company, the FTC will investigate it and sanction it if it's broken the law.
In my view, it's better to bring out the Big Gun of bankruptcy and put all the debts and debt collection scare tactics behind you than it is to try to sue a creditor over a violation of the law. It's quicker, cheaper, and more certain to move you beyond the daily stress of un-manageable debts.
Utah Bankruptcy Clinic
699 E. South Temple, Suite 201F
Salt Lake City, UT 84102