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Complaints About Debt Collectors' Illegal Practices Skyrocket in Michigan and Around the U.S.

September 4, 2009

Thanks to the bad economy, people in Michigan and across the country are increasingly being victimized by unfair and abusive debt collectors, the Detroit Free Press reported Aug. 28. According to the article, the economic downturn is spurring more violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive and abusive behavior by debt collectors. The Federal Trade Commission -- the government agency in charge of enforcing the FDCPA -- saw a 19% jump in the rate of complaints about debt collectors in the first six months of 2008. In fact, it said it regularly gets more complaints about debt collectors than about any other profession. The agency testified before Congress in February to request more "teeth" for the FDCPA.

The article tells the stories of several Michiganders who successfully sued debt collectors for violating their rights under the FDCPA. They include Jessica Wilson, 21, who lost her job and couldn't pay a $500 hospital bill for treating a broken ankle. Wilson endured multiple phone calls from debt collectors every day and said a debt collector told her, incorrectly and illegally, that he would have her arrested if she didn't pay $200 by the end of that day. Another woman, 30-year-old Paula Newland, was laid off from her factory job and missed two $60 car payments. In retaliation, a debt collector illegally called her friends, family, neighbors and landlord to tell them she was missing her payments, threatened to camp out on her lawn and put information about the debt on her MySpace page.

As FDCPA litigation attorneys in Anaheim, we hear horror stories like these from nearly every client who comes to us about debt collectors. The FDCPA provides multiple protections for consumers, including restrictions on how debt collectors may legally try to collect debts as well as mandates for identifying themselves properly, verifying the debt and more. Unfortunately, the FTC simply doesn't have the resources to enforce the law -- and consumers don't always know their rights. Debt collection agencies know that, and in fact rely on it to protect them from the consequences of their own law-breaking. Frequently, it's not until consumers consult a Riverside fair debt collection lawyer that they realize they are entitled to reasonable treatment from debt collectors -- and financial damages from those who break the law.

Howard Law LLP has an active practice suing debt collectors who violate state and federal consumer protection laws. We represent people throughout California who have been subjected to harassment, verbal abuse and other unethical and illegal behavior by debt collectors. In a FDCPA lawsuit, consumers can claim $1,000 in damages for each violation of the law, as well as attorney fees and any costs the harassment caused (such as the cost of losing a job or changing a phone number). Our Hawthorne debt collection abuse attorneys help consumers penalize abusive collection agencies, stand up for their rights and call attention to their illegal behavior. If appropriate, we can also help clients with related matters like settling directly with creditors, invalidating a predatory mortgage loan or exploring the possibility of a bankruptcy.

If you or a loved one has been subjected to harassment, verbal abuse or other illegal and unethical practices by debt collectors, you have rights. To learn more at a free consultation, please contact Howard Law online or call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925.