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New Book Exposes Illegal and Borderline Illegal Practices Used by Debt Collectors

September 10, 2010

Our Rancho Cucamonga fair debt collection attorneys frequently write about the borderline illegal tactics debt collectors use to extract money from people, including people who do not owe that money. So we were very interested to see a recent interview with the author of an exposé about the debt collection industry. WalletPop ran an interview Sept. 7 with Fred Williams, a business journalist who left his job temporarily to take a job as a debt collector with an unnamed Buffalo, N.Y. company he describes as mainstream and well known. The result was a book on debt collectors' tactics and consumers' rights, in which he discusses some of the unprofessional and outright illegal behavior he observed in that job. He also goes into detail with advice for consumers looking to protect and enforce their legal rights.

In the interview, Williams says trainee debt collectors at his firm were not instructed on what was legal and what was not. This was not a result of negligence, he said, but an intentional choice intended to give the company plausible deniability if a trainee violated the law. If the company got into trouble, he said, it could always say the employee made a mistake because he or she was just a trainee. These trainees were a substantial portion of the entire workforce, he added. After an initial classroom training, he said, all training was done by shadowing existing employees. It was not uncommon for those employees to use illegal tactics like threats or implying they were law enforcement officers, he said, but there was no official policy with such tactics. Similarly, Williams said, trainers emphasized that the debt collectors' notes were the only official documentation of their calls, implying but not outright stating that they would not be caught if they lied.

As Moreno Valley debt collection abuse lawyers, we are not at all surprised to hear about this. Debt collection agencies frequently claim that bad collectors who are caught are outliers, and that complainers just want to avoid paying what they owe. That may be true, but it by no means exonerates the debt collection industry for quietly encouraging behaviors that violate the law and consumers' rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the federal law that regulates debt collectors' behavior, exists precisely because debt collectors have discovered that they have better luck when they threaten, lie to and intimidate their victims. Those practices are allowed to go on today because they make money for the collection agency -- and because consumers do not realize they have the right to sue to stop them.

If you're considering this type of lawsuit, Howard Law PC can help. Here in California, you may file a claim under the FDCPA or the similar California law, the Rosenthal FDCPA. Both of these forbid debt collectors from lying, making threats that are not true or cannot legally be carried out, calling constantly or repeatedly, calling anyone other than the debtors or their attorneys and much more. Not surprisingly, however, these behaviors continue, particularly now that the recession has made debt collectors' jobs harder to do. Our Tustin debt collection harassment attorneys help clients fight back by proving the abusive behavior and suing the debt collector in a court of law. In addition to stopping the harassment, you can claim up to $1,000 plus attorney fees and any actual financial damages from the harassment, such as the loss of a job.

Howard Law offers free, confidential consultations, so you risk nothing by speaking to us about your situation. To learn more, send us a message online or call 1-800-872-5925.