That is an excellent question. But the answer may surprise you.
To begin with, the area of law that regulates what a debt collector can and cannot do when they attempt to collect on a debt is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is a federal statute that makes it very clear what is a violation of someone’s consumer rights. In fact the language of this law is so clear on its face that it is difficult to see how anyone could ‘accidently’ break the rules found within it. But break the rules they do (with frequency).
So why is this the case? Well, most people have never even heard of the FDCPA (chances are, this is the first time you have ever read about it). And even if people know that there is probably some kind of protective regulation out there making some the tactics used by collectors unlawful, most individuals do not pursue any sort of recourse. They believe that it will be too time consuming, or costly, or that there won’t be a satisfactory outcome anyway.
But the main reason why the collection agencies flout the law with such regularity is because of this fact. They assume that you will not do anything about their threats, or foul language, or calling you endlessly. In fact, the debt collection industry is so sure that you will not exercise your rights, that they have factored into their cost of doing business the possibility of someone suing them for FDCPA violations maybe only a few times a year. In other words, they believe that since on average only a few people will actually call them out for their tactics per year, they factor that cost into their yearly budgets. That’s like having a staff meeting at the beginning of the business year, and your boss telling you, “Good news! Only three people sued us last year for threatening to take them to jail for not paying their debts!! That means we got away with breaking the law 98% of the time. So this year, part of our budget will include the expense of paying out on three or four claims against us. Now go out there, and crack some skulls!!”
But it doesn’t have to be like this. You have rights, and you have every right to exercise them. For instance, if a collector leaves a voice message on your phone, but does not properly identify themselves as a debt collector, they have violated your rights. You now have rock-solid evidence (the recorded message) of this fact. And now they can be properly sued for their conduct. The damages to you is usually about $1,000, and the collector has to pay your attorney fees (this means no upfront cost to you).
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been protecting people’s rights against bad debt collectors for years. In addition, we can take care of the rest of your debt by filing a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Our initial consultation is free of charge, so call today!