Then they have clearly broken the law. This is a somewhat common tactic used by some debt collectors in their (not so noble) attempts to get money out of you. It is a shame that such tactics are resorted to, but it happens all the time. The problem, of course, is that it is completely unlawful.
The body of law that governs the activities of the collection market is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is a federal statute that lays out precisely what a collector can and cannot do while collecting on a debt. The language of the law is very straightforward, but it is amazing how frequently it is broken. For instance, Section 806(6) of the act state that, “… the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity” is a violation. Or Section 807(1), which states, “The false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof” is a complete violation of your consumer rights.
This means that if a collection agency calls you and states (or implies) that they are acting under the authority of the local police, they are lying through their teeth (and more importantly, breaking federal law). So long as such a violation can be shown to have happened, the damages to you are monetary (usually about $1,000). The other great component of the law is that the collector has to pay for your attorney fees. This means that there are no upfront costs to you for having an attorney file a case for you.
In addition, it may also be a good idea to look into whether or not you may need to file a Missouri or Illinois bankruptcy. Individuals dealing with a debt collector are also frequently trying to juggle many different kinds of debt all at once (or even several different collection agencies). In the case of a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your unsecured debt (like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, deficiencies from a repossessed car, etc.) is all discharged (i.e. knocked out forever). With a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy, things are a little different. A Chapter 13 is described as a repayment plan over the course of three (3) to five (5) years, during which certain debts are paid back. These debts would include mortgage arrearage (in other words, the amount you have fallen behind on your house), car loans, tax debt, and back child support. It is also possible to strip off a second mortgage from your house in a 13 (if the conditions are right), cram down the amount owed on your car to the actual value of the vehicle (instead of the current balance), and still get rid of your unsecured debt at the same time.
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy lawyers at Brinkman & Alter, LLC want to make sure that your consumer rights are protected against the bad dealings of dishonest collection agencies. Our goal is to get you the justice you deserve, get the debts taken care of forever, and set you on the path towards financial success.