Complaints to the Ohio Attorney General's office about unscrupulous debt collectors are on track to top 3,000, the Columbus Dispatch reported Sept. 6. According to Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, complaints from Ohioans about abusive and harassing phone calls had reached 2,067 as of August 31 -- almost as many as the 2,123 received in all of 2007 -- and were expected to reach an all-time high by the end of the year. Cordray blamed the bad economy for the rise in consumer complaints, saying debt collection abuses have increased as fewer people are able to pay off their debts on time. However, he said a great deal of the conduct complained about is illegal under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act.
The Dispatch said Shelly Curtner complained after receiving repeated calls about a debt owed by a woman named Marlene. Marlene lived in her apartment building more than a year ago, she said, and debt collectors are illegally calling Curtner and many of her neighbors about the debt. Another interviewee, William Persi, filed complaints about repeated "robocalls" about someone else's debt. After Persi contacted the company and spoke to a live human being, the calls stopped for a short time, then picked right up again. Cordray said his office has received complaints about illegal harassment, verbal abuse and insults, failure to verify debts, trying to collect debts not owed and making unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts. He has already sued one collection agency, National Enterprise Systems, over some of these practices.
Our San Bernardino fair debt collection attorneys have also seen a sharp increase in clients with complaints about illegal debt collection practices. Here in California, both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and a state law called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act give consumers the right to be free of harassment, threats and other unethical and dishonest debt collection methods. Among other things, debt collectors may not use deception to collect the debt; use foul language or other verbal abuse; call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., your time; call repeatedly or continuously; or contact anyone but your attorney or your spouse about the debt. When they break these and other rules, you may sue -- but because very few people know their rights in this area, too many legal violations go unpunished.
At Howard Law, we stand up for the rights of people who have been harassed, deceived and abused by debt collectors. The Federal Trade Commission is supposed to enforce consumers' rights under federal law, and state attorneys general should enforce state-law rights -- but all of these agencies are overwhelmed by the sheer number of violators. Fortunately, under the federal FDCPA, victims of unfair practices may sue debt collectors on their own, with the help of a Diamond Bar debt collection abuse lawyer. In a lawsuit, you can claim $1,000 for every violation of the law, attorney fees and court costs and all of the costs of the illegal behavior, such as the cost of changing a phone number or losing a job because of illegal harassment at work. Our Paramount FDCPA violation lawyers handle both individual lawsuits and class actions that bring together groups of people whose rights were violated.
If you were repeatedly harassed, abused or lied to by debt collectors and you're ready to stand up for your rights, Howard Law can help. To learn more at a free consultation, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or contact us through the Internet.