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Washington Post Reports on Inaccurate Credit Reporting by Debt Collectors

August 16, 2010

As San Bernardino unfair debt collection attorneys, we were pleased to see an article highlighting the problem of debt collectors adding false information to victims' credit reports. On Aug. 8, the Washington Post reported that the practice, nicknamed "debt tagging," has become increasingly common as the economy has worsened and made it hard for people to pay their debts. Rather than go after people who genuinely owe debts, however, the newspaper said "debt taggers" go after people who happen to have the same name or same phone number, even though this is illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as numerous state laws. To fix the problem and stop the harassment, consumers must spend hours on the phone or even sue the debt collector. The Federal Trade Commission, which enforces federal debt collection laws, also recently won a $1 million judgment against a collection agency called Credit Bureau Collection Services for "debt tagging."

The article starts with the story of Michael L. Hughes, who ignored months of phone calls that he thought were a scam until he took the trouble to listen to one. Then, he discovered that they were actually collection calls -- to collect on a debt owed by Michael B. Hughes, a different person. The credit report for Michael L. Hughes incorrectly showed the debt belonging to Michael B. Hughes, but the debt collectors didn't care -- they just wanted money. It wasn't until Hughes hired an identity theft repair company that he cleared his credit report. Another victim of mistaken identity sued the debt collector harassing him, only to have the harassment start up by a different collection agency. The original creditor has responsibility for making sure the information on the debt is accurate, the article noted, but as debts are sold and re-sold, information decreases or gets confused.

Our Garden Grove debt collection harassment lawyers believe that's true, but we would add that debt collectors don't really care whether the information is accurate or not. Like all businesses, they are in business to make money, and some of them have found that it's just as lucrative to harass the wrong people as it is to harass the right people. They can do this because very few Americans understand their legal rights well. We all have the right under the FDCPA to challenge debt collectors to prove that the debt is valid, but many people don't realize this, or choose not to try because they believe it's hopeless. In fact, if you can prove the debt is not yours, you can stop the harassment -- or, if the debt collector won't stop calling, take them to court. You can also take collection agencies to court for a variety of other legal violations, including harassment, threats, profanity and providing information on the debt to the wrong people.

Howard Law PC represents people who are suing debt collectors in just this type of case. Our clients are people who are victims of deception and outright lies, harassment, abuse and other illegal high-pressure tactics to collect debts. All of these tactics and more are forbidden by the FDCPA and the version in California state law, the Rosenthal FDCPA. Americans are also protected by the FCRA from debt collectors who make false reports to credit reporting agencies, harming the credit of someone who does not owe any debt. Our Temecula debt collection abuse attorneys help clients file lawsuits to stop the illegal behavior and collect financial damages from the offenders. Under the FDCPA and FCRA, you can collect up to $1,000 (or $2,000 if both laws were violated) plus all attorney fees and court costs.

To learn more about how you can strike back agiainst illegal and unethical debt collection, you should call Howard Law today. We offer free, confidential case evaluations. You can reach us through our website or call 1-800-872-5925 today.